February 2, 2013
* TAKEN TO THE WOODSHED *
Aww, I've held these letters for years, planning to use 'em in a future book or a hot magazine story. But 20 years have passed
and I'm despairing of fame and glory, therefore let me share some
of the downsides of two decades as an outdoors columnist:
"In reading your usual enviro-whacko drivel in Sunday's Tribune
it makes one wonder ... you really should get out more, smell the
roses, separate the real from what you and your whacko friends want
it to be, and quit re-living your yesterdays. If you were the
outdoorsman you would have your readers believe ...
The letter went on to become insensitive to my tender self, lowering my self-esteem to dangerously low levels. But
being grateful for any kind of missives from enthusiastic fans, I
overlooked what seemed a decided lack of warmth. The letter was, as one would expect,
unsigned, but postmarked in Great Falls, Dec. 9, 1996.
Most negative letters to my journalistic efforts were, however, signed.
But being kind, fair, and generous as well as clean, brave, and
reverent, I'll omit their names. A lady from California wrote in
response to a column about bathing in a Bob Marshall river:
"... I am very concerned about you jumping into pristine streams
to clean off your dust and sweaty body. No wonder we back packers
can't afford to take a chance in drinking mountain waters. We now
have to pack water with us, and that's a problem you can't relate
to since you have pack horses...."
She also wrote that if she had her way, "you wouldn't be allowed
a permit in the backcountry nor would there be any camps." She ended by saying: "I shall work for my cause." [Hmm]
Perhaps I have credibility problems with members of the opposite
sex (wife included) because another lady wrote to say she reads my
column regularly, but took exception to my referring to anti-hunters as "the effete tea and crumpets crowd who drink chamomile
tea with pinky-outthrust." She went on to say, "...while I drink
tea, something stronger (like English Breakfast Tea) is more my
style." And she pointed out that she doesn't "stick my pinky out
while I drink it, and I have never eaten crumpets."
Win some, lose some, ma'am. I really am sorry for any personal offense.
Another writer sent this letter from Glasgow, MT:
"Your recent article about bears talks about the same message
we've been getting from bear `experts' ... Isn't it possible that
neither roads nor the presence of people really adversely impacts
the bears? Isn't it possible that a select group of bear
ecologists are going overboard on this 'bears can't exist in areas
with roads', not because of facts, but because it suits their
And this last:
"... I think the Rocky Mountain Front has a large potential for
minerals. How did they find paladium and platinum down on the
Stillwater? Core drilling. Yet some big shots want to preserve
Then the writer ended with, "I was raised on the upper Highwood.
Nobody bothered to preserve the scenery there. Why should they do
Next week? Another walk on the wild side.
for previous posts in
ROLAND'S Campfire Culture blog