Originally Published: April 1, 2004 7 a.m.
They tell the story of a farmer who became so frustrated with a recalcitrant mule that pulled his plow that he hired a local "mule whisperer" to try to improve the animal's temperament.
When the vaunted mule fixer pulled his pickup to a stop at the farmer's corral and heard the problem, he pulled a six-foot length of two-by-four out of the pickup bed and hit the mule on the head so hard it collapsed to its knees.
"What in heaven's name are you doing?" the incredulous farmer yelled as the bumfuzzled mule tried to struggle back to its feet.
"I can't really do anything," the mule whisperer said, "until I get his attention."
Two events occurred this week, which should get our attention that wildfire season is here.
This past Saturday, volunteers from the Walker Fire Department were headed home from the Arizona Wildfire Academy at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University when they got the call about a fire that a landowner started to burn felled bark beetle-killed trees on his land that quickly burned out of control.
They probably hadn't planned to apply their newly acquired knowledge so quickly, but their application of the training kept the fire from becoming far worse.
Then Tuesday afternoon an air curtain destructor that provides for environmentally clean burning of brush and debris caused a fire in the brush disposal fields off Sundog Ranch Road near the Prescott Resort.
Firefighters controlled the fire but also let it burn up the accumulated debris in the area to forestall a future fire. Smoke and the smell of it hung thickly over the area for a good part of Wednesday.
It's already fire season, and it's very dry out there. Competition for the Darwin Awards – the program that honors people whose own stupidity ends their lives – so someone invariably will manage to throw a lighted cigarette out their car window or ignore Forest Service fire and access restrictions.
But we can hope they pay for their own stupidity and don't hurt anyone else or destroy someone's home or business.