Drive home listening to the news on the radio until I can’t stand the shittiness of it all any longer so I turn it off, then ten minutes on social media and I see example after example of people just being hateful dicks to each other, and then this. This is what being the baddest hombre on the fucking mountain looks like.
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.
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.
I’ve been absent lately for good reason: I’ve been in the midst of the mayhem of moving. Julia and I had been talking about looking for an opportunity to downsize to save money, and then suddenly an opportunity presented itself and we jumped on it. This all went down somewhere in the middle of January. So we had to pack up one house and move it into another one. Since we went smaller, we had a lot of stuff to get rid of. It’s been backbreaking, but also pretty liberating. Then, once we got moved, it was back to the old place for clean-up, repainting the inside, etc. Which is a TON of work, such that it’s taken pretty much all of our free time. Now it’s all coming down to the wire.
Our old house listed a week ago, though it is scheduled to be unavailable for showing until March 1st. Immediately, though, and this was brought to our attention by our realtor, the scammers were in action. Apparently it’s a fairly common practice for scam artists to find properties listed for sale, then create bogus ads for the properly as being available for rent. In our case, some outfit traceable to South Africa was offering our house via Craigslist for rent for less than probably half of what it could be expected to go for in our area. The idea was that a renter would just send them the deposit ($500) and in return they would get the keys to the place in the mail.
We heard from a couple different sources about the Craigslist ad. We had a family show up while we were there working on it, looking at it as a potential rental. It was heartbreaking; they were clearly hoping it was legit, and the disappointment was visible on their faces when we told them it was a scam. They said they suspected it was, but there was still that glimmer of hope. So it was left to us to burst their bubble.
It never ceases to amaze me the lengths some people will go to just to scam others. It’s disgusting.