The Literary Drover No. 281

This is me, being a card-carrying misanthrope: I never understood the appeal of the shopping mall because it reminded me a maze lab rats were herded into, and the reward was a denial of self-respect and humiliation, along with submission borne of crass commercialism manifested as superficiality and narcissism.

Maybe I was just ahead of my time, where shopping malls are concerned:

The Literary Drover No. 279

I find it interesting that Val Kilmer and I seem to share the opinion regarding galleries and showing our work in public venues because we believe Art is a selfish and intimate pursuit, and when someone attacks it they attack us.

(Aside: If you should happen to know Mr. Kilmer, tell him I said “Hello” and thanks for proving I am not alone in the wilderness where Art is concerned.)

The Literary Drover No. 278

I believe that Nature is a full-contact sport, and where I live is proof of this opinion. A given day will start with a cloudless sky, warmth, and sun, and by noon it has turned into The Big Ugly, which may involve a raging, howling downpour that favors flooding, or it may manifest as a whiteout blizzard with temperatures so low the thermometer hides under the down comforter on the bed.

Because of this knowing the weather is important.

Over the years I have developed a checklist I follow when the plans of the day include outdoor activities, and one of my preferred tools for the purpose is a Dew Point Calculator.

Get your weather geek on.


The Literary Drover No. 277

When my friend “Dean” was fifty years old he went to the doctor for his annual physical. After all the tests were done and the results came back the doctor asked “Dean” how old he was.

“Dean” replied, ‘I’m fifty.’

The doctor looked at him and said, matter-of-fact, “If you want to make fifty-one you need to make changes in your life.”

“Dean” thought about what the doctor had told him, went home and told his wife what was said, and what he intended to do.

She responded by purchasing him a wildlife camera.

When “Dean” was about forty years old he purchased a rural property in the foothills not far from where I live. More than five hundred acres it is a paradise for many. But until “Dean” was told that he should change his life he didn’t know much about his property. He was too busy working.

After his wife purchased him a wildlife camera he installed it on the railing of the deck outside of their bedroom. A week later he reviewed the memory card and was equally delighted and concerned to learn that there had been a nighttime visitor on the deck: A mountain lion.

Inspired by the revelation “Dean” purchased another wildlife camera and located it on a tree behind the barn on the property. A week later he reviewed the memory card for that camera and found that the mountain lion had company – a bear.

Over the years “Dean” has acquired more and more remote cameras and located them around his property, taking delight and expressing concern in what they reveal about the land he calls home.

The mountain lion has friends: “Dean” has photographed at least six other great cats on the property. The bear has a companion or two – there are at least a dozen bears that wander about. There are elk and mule deer, rabbits, coyotes, foxes, skunks, a badger, snakes, bobcats, and curious birds and raptors.

Because of this pursuit and because of what his doctor told him to do “Dean” has changed his life for the better. I think so, that is. He recently celebrated his 65th birthday, and his doctor says he has the vital signs and physical appearance of someone half his age.

I believe having a defined purpose each day and pursuing it with passion, along with honesty, sincerity, and truth will allow you to make the most of your life.

Now and then “Dean” and I get together to explore his property, to seek out the denizens he has photographed day and night. Sometimes we find them. Sometimes we find their calling card – a tuft of hair caught in the bark of a tree, a pile of scat, a pool of urine. Or, depending on the creature in question, the remains of a recent meal – a partially ruined carcass, a chunk of meat that was cached because our presence was known.

Nature is the savage garden, and these journeys serve as a reminder of that truth and fact. Equally, I am reminded of my place in the world, and my purpose and function while I am here.

May the same be true for you.

The Literary Drover No. 276

I wrote about a property owned by the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources called “The Devil’s Backbone Open Space”.

The first time I visited the Backbone I was the only visitor and I had to wonder aloud if the property was open to the public. A maintenance man, who was unlocking the pit toilets, assured me that the property – which is day use only – was open. But, he added. You’re the only who’s been here this week.

Recently I returned to the Backbone to do research for a writing project and quickly learned that I was not alone: There was only one parking space available, and the rest of the parking area was overcrowded. At least two uniformed officers were writing tickets for vehicles illegally parked.

Add the number of people in the parking lot and I had to wonder silently if I had taken a wrong turn and ended up in an outdoor concert.

Although the lack of peace and quiet was disappointing I understood the appeal of the place. Frustration quickly replaced my disappointment when I saw how others treated the property and disrespected the land. For example, dogs are allowed on the trails, but they must be on-leash.

I counted at least six dogs off-leash.

Bags and dump stations are available at the main trail head for dog owners to bag and dispose of canine waste.

I stopped counting the number of bags containing dog waste along the trails when I reached twenty.

I also stopped counting the number of piles of dog waste along the trail dog owners had failed to collect and bag.

Because of the growing popularity of the property in recent years it has become necessary to restrict use of some trails to hikers only. To appease other interests, a new trail was established and it is clearly marked for use by mountain bikers, trail runners, and horseback riders.

I chose a foot traffic-only trail, but encountered four trail runners and two mountain bike riders who contempt for my presence was expressed through profanity.

After I returned to the parking lot I saw a park ranger and mentioned what I had experienced. He informed me that unless he saw the violations nothing could be done.

When people find out I have a love for the outdoors they tend to assume that I am an ecologist, an environmentalist, a conservationist.

I am none of the above because so many who claim to belong to such categorizations are not what they claim. As I left the property I noted the number of bumper stickers declaring love for the planet.

Such declarations, after my experience, are examples of blatant hypocrisy.