Tag Archives: Pinkham Creek

But, Then Again, on the Other Hand…

Story of the Day for Tuesday March 27, 2012

But, Then Again, on the Other Hand…

At dawn the angels urged Lot, saying, “Get up! Take your wife and two daughters, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” But Lot hesitated.

Genesis 19:15-16

One of the greatest singers of all time, Luciano Pavarotti, knew what he wanted to be from a young age. He wanted to be a soccer goalie.

Luciano’s mother urged him to become a teacher instead, so he sought a degree in education. But his father, Fernando, introduced him to the joy of singing. Arrigo Pola, a professional tenor, took on Luciano as a student — teaching him without pay.

Pavarotti was torn. Should he pursue a teaching career or seek to become a

professional singer? Finally, his father put it to him bluntly, “Luciano, if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.”

When Abram and Lot started running out of elbow room, they decided to part ways on friendly terms. Abram gave his nephew Lot first choice, and he chose the fertile lands to the east. Lot settled with his family in the town of Sodom.

One day, two angels warned Lot to take his family and flee from the city because God was about to destroy it. This wasn’t a great time to hesitate, but that’s exactly what Lot did.

Major decisions in life have the tendency to paralyze us. No matter what we decide we can always say, “Yes, but on the other hand . . .”  When we seek to serve the Lord with our gifts and abilities, our problem is seldom that we choose the wrong direction; it’s that we can’t decide, so we choose no direction at all.

Up on Pinkham Creek, the animal version of  Russian Roulette is to attempt to run in front of a vehicle without becoming roadkill.

The gophers gather in the ditch and one of them says, “Okay Harvey, it’s your turn.” Another gopher shouts, “Hey, I hear something coming!” The gophers keep Harvey poised until the vehicle is closing in on them and then they shout, “Go, Harv, hit it!” And Harvey barrels across the road as fast as he can scamper . . . which isn’t all that fast.

Yet, while gophers aren’t all that fast, they seldom get hit because they always race for the other ditch without hesitation.

The pine squirrels play the same game but are far faster. Yet, in the middle of the road they stop, turn around and start to run back. Hesitate. Turn around. Run the other way. Stop. Hesitate . . . Squirrels are lighting quick but often lose at Russian Roulette.

There’s a lesson here.

But, then again, do I really need to spell it out for you?

On the other hand, without an application my meaning could be misunderstood.

Nevertheless, shouldn’t I trust that you’re smart enough to figure it out for yourself?

Okay, maybe I should explain the meaning of the gopher story, but I always limit my articles to one page, so it’ll have to be brief.

Oh, for crying out loud, I just ran out of space.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

The Wily Game Warden

Story of the Day for Wednesday January 4, 2012

The Wily Game Warden

                 The sound of a rustling leaf will cause them to run, and even when no one is chasing them they will flee as though from a sword . . . They will stumble even though no one is pursuing them. 

                                                                                  Leviticus 26:36-37

 Before we lived in Montana, we would drive out west on vacation to my in-laws ranch. After a weary 1200 miles, we observed the happy little ritual of stopping at the last town to buy our fishing licenses. We always bought an annual out-of-state license – expensive, but worth it to enjoy heaping plates of fresh brook trout.

One year, we tumbled into town so late that all the stores were closed. We drove up to my wife’s parent’s ranch and walked through the trees to their house by moonlight.

Buckhorn Ranch is the last ranch up the mountain, and so you don’t drive into town every time you need one item. We discussed driving into town later that day, and then we would be able to buy our fishing licenses. But my wife and I were so anxious to catch some fish, and because we knew in our hearts that we were going to buy our fishing licenses later that day, we didn’t see any harm in re-honing our technique on the creek.

Pinkham Creek is a fairly remote, heavily wooded mountain valley. That is one reason we were totally unprepared for what happened next.

“Do you hear something?” my wife asked.

“Yeah.” It sounded liked an old John Deere tractor with a fouled spark plug.

And then we saw it. It was a helicopter flying low right up the creek bottom. This was not a small, commercial sight-seeing helicopter, but a big, olive-green military chopper.

“Hide!” I shouted to my wife. We darted behind some trees as the chopper roared over our heads. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I thought a Montana game warden had come up with an ingenious way to catch people who were fishing without a license.

We scooted back to the house and I asked my mother-in-law about it. She said the area was so remote some found it a safe place to grow marijuana. The military was combing the area because they have special equipment to spot marijuana plots.


As I reflected on it later, I realized how silly my fears were. What? Would the game warden really hire out a military aircraft to patrol remote mountain streams on the unlikely chance he might spot a fisherman?

I imagined him spotting us, ordering the pilot to hover in place while he scrambled down a rope ladder. With a couple of soldiers pointing machine guns at us to prevent us from fleeing, he would stride up to us in his sunglasses, and say, “Good morning. Nice day for fishing. May I see your licenses please?”

As I say, the whole notion is ludicrous. But, when you have a guilty conscience, fear balloons out of proportion to reality, and makes you think stupid.


If you’ve already blown it, Jesus can cleanse your conscience, (although helicopters may make you nervous for years afterward.) But, if you’re still considering your options, buying a fishing license first is definitely the way to go.

                                    (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)


And Jesus Said, “What?”

Story of the Day for Friday July 8, 2011

And Jesus Said, “What?”


                Along the way, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say I am?”  

                                                            Mark 8:27

 T. S. Eliot captured the Nobel Prize for literature, and you should keep that fact in mind when I tell you I don’t have much use for him. In an effort to cultivate my image as a man of sensibility and refined tastes, I pulled Eliot’s Four Quartets off the shelf. I’m not going to give away the ending to his poem for the simple reason that I never made it that far. Truth be told, I never made past the first page.  Here are the first eight lines:


Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,

And time future contained in time past.

If all time is eternally present

All time is unredeemable.

What might have been is an abstraction

Remaining a perpetual possibility

Only in a world of speculation.


Eliot is a man of renown, but I don’t understand a thing he’s saying. You may be thinking that the fog will lift if I keep reading to the second page, but I’m doubting it.


Over sixty-five years ago, Madeline Utter taught a class of rambunctious kids in a one-room schoolhouse on Pinkham Creek. She, along with her husband, Lee, still live up here on Pinkham Mountain.

Madeline writes simple poems, but her writing never fails to charm me:


A lonely little Pinkham privy

Sits alone out in the woods

It is a one holer just waiting

For someone to drop the goods.


I have waded through theology books so thick they could crack your toe – should one fall on your foot. Although I have learned much, I’ve always had to resist the impulse of viewing God as the answer to a question on a trigonometry exam.

Over the years, I have found a perverse encouragement in a scrap of graffiti scratched on the wall of a college dorm:

Jesus said unto them, “Who do you say that I am?”

And they replied, “You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the keryma in which we find the ultimate meaning of our existential Sitz im Leben.”

And Jesus said, “What?”

                                                               (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)