Commentary by PAT MURPHY
The gripping battle to stop fires advancing through Idahos
picturesque forests has all the metaphors of a war.
"Troops" (firefighters) being rushed to the battlefield.
"Reservists" (Army units and retired Forest Service personnel)
being called up to duty for action.
"Bombers" (fire retardant aircraft and helicopters) diving low
to attack the flames.
"Generals" (President Clinton, Interior Secretary Babbitt, et
al) visiting the "front" to energize morale of the exhausted "troops."
The question in this "war" is whos the friend or
foeMother Nature or the firefighters?
Speaking of those fires: a couple from the East visiting Ketchum recall
with a chuckle their phone conversation with the clerk at one of Ketchums small
"We called ahead to ask whether the fires were affecting the
area," the husband said. "The clerk said, Not yet, but if were not
here when you arrive, you know weve evacuated the town."
The clerk was kidding, right?
In the twilight days of his political career, retiring Blaine County
Commissioner Len Harlig was reflecting the other day about the joy of returning home after
a visit to Los Angeles.
see whats happened there, I come back here with a
renewed sense of how absorbingly beautiful this place is and how well we have managed our
Is it possible that guardians of early Los Angeles also were just as
enthralled with their management of growth as Harlig is about the Wood River Valleys
before L.A.s growth spun out of control?
Signs of Wood River Valley growth at a gallop are all
aroundtraffic-clogged streets, new three-story commercial buildings replacing quaint
shops, the smell of diesel fumes as tractors and trucks bustle between construction sites.
One wonders if Len Harlig will revisit his reverie in, say, 10 years, and
honestly repeat his 2000 valedictory"I come back here with a renewed sense of
how absorbingly beautiful this place is and how well we have managed our
Off to the side of one of our areas most popular hiking trails is a
tiny wooden cross marking a small grave.
A sign on the cross reads simply, "Here Lies a Good Dog."
One wonders what friendship between that dog and its master or mistress
lies behind this tender tribute, and what grief over a lost friendship this small sign
One can picture a pooch frolicking up the path, wagging its tail in happy
appreciation to its owner for the joy of taking it to play in the outdoors.
And then its easy to realize the meaning of the grave: the grieving
owner remembered to return his or her departed friend to the place it loved so much.