Controversy - Blessed Controversy!

Controversy: Debate; Dispute (courtesy Thorndike Barhart Comprehensive Desk Dictionary).

Without controversy we would probably never have reached our current 'heights' in technology, pharmacology, psychology, theology and so on (although we may someday view some of our progress as regress)! No doubt, without 'debates' we would have been content to maintain the status quo. However, someone always manages to come along and poke at our comfortable repose - and, in the positive sense, get our brain cells clanging around which, if all goes as it should, leads to positive improvements in the things which make our lives 'comfortable'.

On the other hand, wars would cease if it were not for our disputes. In good 'fence riding' fashion, I will tiptoe around that hot spot and dive into what I consider to be safer ground - even though I highly doubt it is less of a 'topic' for many.

Since most of the time I am surrounded more by nature and its issues, I am not surprised my view of 'controversy' is more colored by animals than wars. Not to raise them to a pedastal for which they were not made, but these issues are important too - especially the clash between human interests and animal interests.

After all, this is the springboard for animal rights groups. Lest I be misunderstood, that isn't where this is headed. Although I would be in the front lines to stop animal brutality, I don't put animals and humans on the same level. If I were forced to take the life of an animal to save the life of a child, it would pain me severly, but I'd do so.

To the point. Take the environmental movement. Many in this growing 'class' work with serious dedication and hard work to return our planet to what they envision it was in the past. Their efforts have saved many beautiful and valuable places from over-development and explotation. For that I applaud them.

However, I believe there are those who take things to the extreme. I'm referencing, for example, those who feel the wolf has a right to be wherever - whenever. In other words, wild creatures by their very definition deserve the right to do as they please with no consequences whatsoever (except what another natural aspect should wish to impose on them).

No human interference. While this may sound practical - in the sense of protecting the wolf - it certainly flies in the face of those who make try to make a living without 'feeding' the wolf.

I speak of ranchers. Oddly enough, most folks I visit with do not see the rancher as an environmentalist. Nevertheless, much of the land we now enjoy - those wide open spaces which bring us a taste of what it used to be like - exists because of this hardy breed. By the way, the Centennial Valley is a PERFECT example.

It is the rancher who has kept the west from being developed as rapidly as the east. It is the rancher who has protected and preserved and provided for the land - purely and simply (sometimes) because he would loose his livelihood without it. It is the rancher who has held off the developer - often the great exploiter of the land.

Yet for all his hard work, not only does he not receive the credit he is due, but he is often slapped with the label of 'wolf-killer'. Case in point: "The Loop" by Nicholas Evans. Although I enjoyed portions of this book immensely, Evans paints the rancher with the broad (and politically correct) brush. He's shortsighted, money-grubbing, and environmentally destructive - if he perceives it as being in his best interest.

Books like this, I believe, despite the good they may do in providing a 'postive' outlook on a feared (and thus endangered) animal, have put the rancher in the position of defending himself (as well as his livestock) against the wolf - or more specifically - against those who see the wolf's side of the equation but fail to see the rancher's side.

I'm not advocating a free-for-all wolf killing spree. I agree, this beautiful creature has a right to exist on the planet. But what I believe sets me apart from many who would agree with that statement is: I believe there is greater value in a human life than in a wolf's life. Lest I be painted with that broad (and currently politically correct) brush let me clarify my point.

Wolves have a right to exist wherever and whenever they choose, as long as it is not endangering the life of a human. I also agree we must exercise great restraint in the expansion of development to prevent pushing them into a 'too small to survive' location. However, as in the case of the rancher, we - as humans - must be allowed the right to defend ourselves (and our livestock or our families) against a wolf.

Wolves are top of the food chain predators. They have NO enemies except man. While I'm certainly not advocating broad scale wolf killing, there are cases where a rancher must do what a rancher must do. Sadly enough, there are some out there which just don't see it that way. For them the wolf is sacred.

Another case in point (and closer to home): the man who sat in my dining room and condemned me when he found out - through the course of our conversation - that if I saw a wolf stalking my (then 3 year old) son, I would kill it. In the end I think it all boiled down to point of view.

Like I told him - yes, my son probably has no more intrinsic value to you than that wolf (although he should). However, were that your son out there, I would hope you would find enough love and parental fidelity in your heart to protect your son, even if it meant taking the life of such a beautiful and wild animal.

It's all in your perspective - and so the controversy will continue.

Lady of the Lake
PS - The beautify photo of the Hayden Pack is courtesy of our good friend, Gary!

The Close of a Season

The time has come - and we are ready. Time to shut the doors for a few weeks and enjoy a respite from the day to day. What most people call 'vacation'. What those of us in the service industry call 'rest'.

Living in such an incredible place, the sad part is only that we must leave (at least briefly) to get a complete break. Otherwise people still stop by - the curious, the friendly, or the lost ones - to visit. This, of course, does not facilitate the complete break our bodies need to rejuvenate nor the mental relaxation our minds need to regroup.

I think season closure is much like sunset. You work hard during the day, but (at least for most of us) the sun's set signals a time for repose, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Our bodies demand it. Our minds require it.

If it were not for the blessed time we call 'sleep', our bodies would soon burn out and our minds would whirl out of control. However, after a good night's sleep our bodies awake, eager for the new day, and our minds leap forward into the new challenges the day provides.

Thus we look forward, with eagerness, to our re-opening --- full of vim, vigor, and vitality --- eager for the new days and the new challenges.

Lady of the Lake


Life on the "Wild" Side

I've finally gotten back into the swing - the daily walk swing. During the summer and early fall seasons I spend WAY too much time indoors. In fact, with a season as busy as our last, I don't have the time (or the energy) to get out and enjoy the incredible natural resources in my back yard. However, with the changing of the seasons, I'm back outdoors and loving it.

Lately, as I've been walking along, I've gotten to pondering the 'deep' subject of why it is some people find pure (not the 'Disneyland' form) nature so inviting while others find it overwhelming at the least, maybe a little inhibiting, or, in some cases, downright frightening. I'm sure I seem as alien to those who are more comfortable in the city (or at least suburbia) as they seem to me. But, I think, in reality, 'they' are in the majority while I'm somewhere nearly off the scale in the minority.

Seriously! Take for example the folks who move 'way out' into the country. They obviously are pulled toward something. Something draws them. Most likely it has something to do with the quiet, the privacy, the seclusion. But, what is the first thing they do? They install one of those big mercury vapor yard lights (or something similar) to light up their space. My questions is: why? Why move out where you can see the stars then drown their existance? Why settle in a secluded location then advertise your presence with a beacon?

I decided it is, in most cases, a reflection of our fear. We fear nature. At first this may seem odd, but dig a little deeper and the actions of most people support my theory.

Take Mr. VanBlaricom's article from an old issue of "The Wallowa County Chieftain". Years ago when Mr. VanBlaricom wrote for this small town newspaper, he was one of my favorite contributors. In recent years the new owners have decided a more 'politically correct' approach to news casting (isn't that an oximoron?) is preferred. Thus Mr. V's contributions no longer fit.

For all his 'unpolitically correct' viewpoints, Mr. V had a major dose of good sense. In the article to which I'm referring, Mr. V tells of a 4th of July weekend excursion he took with his wife.

Before I relate his story, a little background might help. Wallowa County, Oregon is a large county of which a vast percentage is public land (BLM, USFS, State, and the like). The people made their living primarily in the timber industry (until our national forests were closed to logging) or in agriculture (hay, grain, cattle). One final point of importance was the county's draw to the tourist. Boasting beautiful scenery, grand mountain ranges, deep canyons, and lots of wide open space, Wallowa County was a popular spot for those 'escaping' the city.

With that in mind, consider Mr. VanBlaricom's story. He says, one bright morning on a busy 4th of July weekend, he and Mrs. V decided to take a drive out north. Leaving behind civilization (and pavement), they headed into the hills. The loop they were traversing covered more than 100 miles, mostly through public land on gravel roads. However, in spite of passing two or three forest service campgrounds, the VanBlaricoms traversed a completely unpopulated piece of earth.

Having seen all the tourists rolling into town for the long holiday weekend, they found this just a bit odd. Especially as the county had been hit (again) by another push from 'environment lovers' to ban hunting of 'this' or close cattle access to 'that' or protect 'these' from 'them'. So, where were all those people who so loved nature and so desired to protect it for themselves and the future generations? Here it was, the land they were protecting so they could enjoy it. Why weren't they enjoying it?

Mr. and Mrs. V pondered this question into their dreams. The next morning, they decided to set the issue aside and take a drive to the lake. It is important to note that 'the lake' was one of the county's most beautiful attractions - but, it was also one of the most 'commercialized' pieces of real estate. However, people aside, the locals still enjoyed a visit now and again. So, off they went.

To their surprise, not only did they find the lake, they found ALL the people. The lake's campgrounds were spilling over. Side by side, people were crammed into every available nook and cranny.

In the end, Mr. V came to the only logical conclusion. Although some of those folks had probably fought for (or at least agreed with) the petitions to 'save' the wild areas from . . . . - they were too afraid of nature and too accustomed to their 'conveniences' and 'entertainments' to go out and 'enjoy' it. Instead they huddled together in their comfortable RVs listening to their neighbor's TV show or the argument down the lane instead of the birds twittering in the nearby bush, the wind whispering in the trees, the hooting of a solitary owl, or the yipping conversation of a pack of coyotes.

So, what's the moral of this story? Sadly, it supports the growing realization that many people are uncomfortable with or even scared of 'pure nature'. On the other hand, I can't seem to get enough.

Don't take that to mean I'm out there looking for bears and wolves with which to have up-close and personal experiences. My hiking companion - he's BIG, black, white, and tan, and furry - was picked to help avoid such confrontations. But, I don't like hiking the road (hunting season may make it expedient, but certainly not desireable). I don't even like hiking the same trail day after day - even my favorite trails grow old that way.

I do like exploring over the next ridge or revisting a spot I haven't been in a while. Listening to the elk bugle across the lake (or up the draw) sends shivers of pleasure up my spine. I get a kick out of watching a coyote watching me. Spotting a new bird species makes my day. Even the quiet pleasure of sitting on a hillside - me, the dogs, and no one else - soaking up a few 'rays and listening to the wind's whisper, the bird's chirping, and the squirrel's chatter beats out any 'civilized' form of recreation in my book.

So, does this make me odd? In a not so distance past I would probably have been considered the 'conservative', the 'hesitant', or maybe even the 'fearful' hiker. Today, well, things are just different today, aren't they?

Lady of the Lake


Who Can Be So Blind As To Doubt This Granduer Has An Architect?

I don't usually 'preach' in my blog - and I won't today, I'll let Isaac Watts have the podium. He says it much more eloquently anyway. I'm glad he does because I can't keep silent when such beauty floods the countryside around me!

"I sing the mighty power of God, that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at God's command, and all the stars obey.

"I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food,
Who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where'er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tred, or gaze upon the sky.

"There's not a plant or flower below, but makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise, and tempests blow, by order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that man can be, Thou, God art present there."

Lady of the Lake