He’s just a bit long in the tooth and toothless at Clear Creek | TheUnion.com

He’s just a bit long in the tooth and toothless at Clear Creek

Hard to believe, but soon I will have written 600 of these columns. There are a few who would insist this is a milestone best worn around my neck while wading across the Yuba River on mossy rocks on a moonless night during spring thaw.

When I am in town, regular readers often come up to me and say, “I really liked your column this week.” Critics! They are everywhere. I’ve quit asking them what it was about because they usually can’t remember. No need to feel embarrassed, neither can I. Sometimes I write these things two or three weeks ahead of deadline. Hey, who am I kidding? Since we finally hooked up to the Internet last year, my column gets e-mailed in five minutes before it is due.

Am I content with the content? For me, it is enough that the stuff seems important when I write it, and the people I bump into like it. It is presumptuous perhaps, but I consider the events recorded here at Clear Creek Ranch to follow in the “grand” tradition of Dagwood Bumstead, Walter Mitty, Sonny Bono and Fraser Crane. Essentially, this column is not about the news, and it is not about you. It is about me. If you don’t like something I wrote, remember my intent is to amuse, not abuse.

So far, my most vocal critics, when measured by negative letters to the editor, have been rodeo cowboy wannabes, 4-H pig breeders, NH 2020 supporters and bed-and-breakfast owners. Not a naturally occurring “gang of four,” in my mind.

In contrast, local forest gnome Brian Vincent took the column I wrote based on his jail time hunger strike with good humor. Beyond publicizing his agenda, the hunger strike served two purposes – it enhanced his professional tree-hugger resume and helped him lose a few belt notches while enjoying the government’s hospitality. Bed without breakfast, if you will.

When I met Brian, he disarmed me with laughter, and managed to go away with a rare (except at garage sales and remainder bins everywhere), autographed copy of my book (formerly part of a tree), “Coping In the Country” (ISBN 1-889586-00-5). Why isn’t THIS guy running for county supervisor?

By the way, a few copies of “Coping in the Country” are still available. Order one on Amazon.com or, better yet, at a local bookstore. They can use the money more than Jeff Bezos.

The first time the negative letters to the editor directed at me reached critical mass, I almost un-lapsed my status with the Catholic church in hopes that a novena or two might pull me through. My wife listened patiently as I bemoaned the injustice of it all. I even talked about it with my father, who grew up in several very small towns in Depression-era Missouri and Texas.

“I gotta watch what I say,” I said.

“Doesn’t matter,” he said. “Even if you say nothing, people will talk about you anyway.”

So listen to my dad. Everyone has an opinion about everyone else, and that means somewhere, someone you know is thinking something critical about you, too.

And now for a classical Finnish: “No one ever erected a statue to honor a critic.”- Jean Sibelius, composer. (Editorial note of explanation: Sibelius was born in Finland, home of the original Lapp dance.)

Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer whose column appears on Tuesday. You can write him in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or e-mail him at

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