We just realigned the Independent building to frame the sun rising over Hellgate Canyon. It was kind of an expensive move and the effect only really lasts for about two months out of the year, but it’s the hottest trend in design since the advent of green building. It’s called neo-Neolithic. The corporate bandwagon is already on the way—expect the iYurt to release sometime next year.

Speaking of pagan happenings, the Summer Solstice has come and gone. Yes, the days are getting shorter now, but, more importantly, summer is officially on. See that? No, you wouldn’t, but we just waved a flag weaved from clarkia and fireweed signifying its time to get happy and float down a river. If you celebrated the holiest of animist holidays this weekend, you might be miles downstream already, passed out and beached on a riffle.

On a darker note, summer also means the beginning of fire season—bringer of morels, filler of front pages and the only source of pollution we can’t blame on corporate America. Over the past week, fire officials from the local level on up to the feds began circling wagons in preparation for the coming conflagrations.

At the big state fire meeting on June 24, officials officialized what many Montanans already suspected—a late, wet spring means this fire season shouldn’t be nearly as heated as the last. That being said, Missoula hotshot crews are already at work in Southern California and reports of smaller blazes are rolling across the local wire.

At a June 19 meeting of the legislative interim committee on fire suppression, a public comment session on seasonal tactics heard some advice from the tourism industry: Shut up. Reps from the Montana Tourism Advisory Council told the board that fires are less of a problem for the biz than all of us in the media talking about it so much.

For serious? Is that how we get tourists to go away? If so, we’re thinking campaign slogans. How about Montana: America’s Tinderbox? Try this one: Big Sky, Big Sky, burning bright. Maybe we could just put the bark beetle on our state flag?

It’s clear we need to hitch up this dog and pony show fast, because it seems like every year tourism interests turn another debaucherous event family friendly. We stayed through the Iraq War, but the day Rock Creek Lodge announces its annual Private Place Festival, we’re going to Canada.

In the meantime, we’ll be here in our solar temple working on tourist scare tactics—not that natural light reaches the basement editorial cave. It just makes the screen glare anyway.
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