MOMMA ALWAYS SAID if you can’t say something nice, write a newspaper column.
When I first started out, all I knew about writing a newspaper column was what I read in the paper. It was to be like being married to a nymphomaniac, fun for a week or two, but after that it’s like having a job or something.
Columnists face a high incidence of career burnout. The first sign is when they write a column about writing a column.
Being a freelance wilderness gossip columnist is a job I take very seriously.
“Freelance” is a newspaper term for “unemployed.” Any column could be my last.
That is why I would like to take this opportunity to thank every one of you readers for allowing me to visit your home every week via the PDN.
There are probably not enough hours in the day to thank the little people who make writing this column possible, but I know you are out there.
You send the most wonderful cards and letters, which is why it might be a good time to review my letters policy.
Please remember that even the simplest thoughts from the most confused brains can be more effective with proper spelling.
“Kill” is spelled with two “l’s.”
“U” is actually spelled “Y-O-U.”
And maybe you should use a little more glue on those letters you cut out of your bass-fishing magazines when you try to stick them together into words on the stationery.
Words can be hard to read when they are all jumbled up together in the bottom of the envelope.
I only mean this as a constructive criticism, but maybe you should work on your scissors skills. That’s if they still let you have sharp things.
But even if they don’t, and you’re nothing but a glue-sniffing bass fisherman, that does not make your opinion less valuable than any other reader’s — like the soul-less automaton whose cynical manipulation of the salmon restoration industry has yet to produce a fish.
Or the cut-and-run timber industry functionaries who just spent 40 years spraying every watershed on the North Olympic Peninsula with herbicides to kill alders, only to discover that they are the most valuable tree we have.
Or the Elwha Dam wreckers whose failure to deal responsibly with the resulting flood of sediments could lead to the extinction of the Elwha salmon.
All I have ever tried to do was to share my love of nature.
Unfortunately nature is getting harder and harder to find.
The seemingly inexhaustible natural resources we historically took for granted on the North Olympic Peninsula — the fish, timber and water — are nearly all used up, locked up or economically extinct.
All of which confirms my theory of history as a process of decay.
For example, our own history began with invention of writing at about 3500 B.C.
Fishing has gotten a whole lot worse since then.
While it is only natural for people to want to kill the messenger or blame writers for writing about the fishing, man has always been a threat to the environment.
It is a well-documented fact that prehistoric man hunted animals into extinction all around the globe. Bad things just seem to happen whenever man invades a continent.
With man’s technological advances, species extinction has accelerated to the point where it is an accepted part of doing business.
It is a natural progression which could threaten man’s survival.
Someday I am going to write a column about it.
Pat Neal is a North Olympic Peninsula fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist.”
He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or e-mail at [email protected]Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.