Rage Spike

3:00 PM UPDATE: Turns out it was AN INSIDE JOB!

After talking to my mom, who suggested that maybe the willows had been cut intentionally, I called the local FWP office and talked to the manager who handles Council Grove, Mike Hathaway. Turns out they did indeed do the cutting, or at least it was done in their name via an Americorps volunteer, who also performed the initial planting. The tops of the trees were starting to die, and they were being damaged by the wind, so they were cut in hopes of encouraging root growth. Mike and I also discussed the fact that people were still obviously accessing the river via that closed spot, even though there is available access about twenty feet away. He asked my opinion as to what I thought should be done next, etc. So it was a good conversation. I told him I felt a little guilty for feeling the outrage, and he told me I shouldn’t. “Get a group of us managers together,” he said, “and you’ll hear plenty of stories of just the kind of vandalism you suspected here.” So while I briefly thought that maybe people DON’T suck, it turns out they actually still do.


Whenever I’m not traveling, every day I take Darla the Adventure Dog for a walk at a river access location nearby called Council Grove. It is actually a primitive state park. During poor weather, or cold weather, we practically have it all to ourselves. As summer rolls in, it sees more and more use. It’s beautiful, with copious wildlife, primarily birds. It is an easy place to love, and sauntering there is often the highlight of my day. I know it is for Little D as well.

A few weeks ago, along about a 40-50 foot stretch of riverbank, where the edge has broken off and collapsed into the flow of the river when it runs higher than normal, the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks people posted several signs that read as follows:

Willows have been planted in this area to restore natural habitat, prevent flooding, and stabilize the river banks. Help keep Council Grove a great place for both wildlife and people by not disturbing the vegetation on the banks, keeping your dogs on leash, and accessing the river at suggested river access points only. Thank you for your cooperation.

I’ve spoken with the game warden a couple times when I’ve encountered him down there, and he’s a nice enough guy. He realizes most people don’t keep their dogs on leashes, and isn’t really a hard-ass about it. But as it gets busier, he needs to enforce it. I understand. Most people take the risk. It isn’t a big deal.

They planted at least 20 or 30 willows along that bank. There is a perfect access spot right adjacent to the closed area, with a sign indicating it as such. I was out there Monday the 15th, and the new growth looked good. The next day I left on a work trip, and wasn’t out there again until the afternoon/evening of my return on the 19th. In the intervening time some fucking asshole had come along and cut off all the willows and absconded with them. They range in size from a bit bigger than my thumb to as small as my little finger. All gone.

click to make bigger
click to make bigger

Who the hell does something like that? Some jerk-off mad at MFWP? And they’re too dumb to realize it’s everyone else they’re hurting too? It is the kind of senseless vandalism I just don’t get. Leaving cigarette butts and beer and soda cans and shit like that pisses me off because it’s lazy. This fills me with rage. What sucks is they will likely never be caught either. What a waste. I’m making tons of effort these days to try and get my head straight and be a better person and all that, but stuff like this (not to mention racism and mass shootings and free trade agreements and oil rigs headed to Alaska and on and on… ) really makes me wish for a freakin’ pandemic or something. Truly.

Well. Rather than close on a bad note, here is a collection of Darla the Adventure Dog in action at Council Grove. She’s always happy so long as some rambunctious puppy isn’t all up in her grill.



And here are just a couple other shots I’ve taken there recently.






Glorious Day for an Outing

I was out of town the early part of this week, and apparently it snowed at home again. Yesterday, however, felt like an early glimpse of summer, as you can surmise from these pictures. We took the dogs out to the river via Council Grove State Park for some running around, and they loved it.

I know shots of other people’s pets don’t interest a lot of people, but they interest me, so sue me for showing pictures of mine.


You’ll note only three of the dogs are pictured. Orly, The King, is well into his golden years; he’s pushing 19 now, I guess. He can’t hear, is mostly blind, and doesn’t get around so well and is mostly addled. We fear his final days are upon is. It makes me a little sad to not have him out with us, but that’s how it goes with pets. Hell, Bernard, the big dog, doesn’t get around so well either. All of our pets are old. It will be some painful moments over the next couple years, for sure.

Gratitude Monday

I spend quite a bit of time parked along the south bank of the Clark Fork River as it passes under Higgins Bridge downtown. Julia has a part-time gig at Betty’s Divine, and, as we are currently operating on one vehicle between us, some days she works I take her to work and then pick her up later. It is an opportunity to sit and read, get out and walk, and even just watch the water. I love it, and I’m grateful I am able to live in such a beautiful city. There are surfers and kayakers playing on the waves. Fishermen casting for trout. Walkers, joggers, and bikers of all ages and fitness levels sharing the trail. Wildlife too: just a couple days ago I watched an osprey dive-bomb from the sky, submerge, and emerge with a fish in its claws. Beautiful.

I do my best not to take it for granted.

Image shot via iPhone through a rain-spattered windshield
Image shot via iPhone through a rain-spattered windshield