It Comes in Threes - Empty Nest by Curt Swarm


It started when the internet went down.  We live in the country so we have our own satellite internet provider.  The internet has gone down before, in storms and so-on, and it was just a matter of waiting overnight until it came back up.  But the next day, when the internet was still down, I realized something else must be wrong.  Ginnie was having a conniption because she's our church's financial secretary and had a boat load of work to do.  I called the satellite company.  After another two-day wait, a new modem, and a dish re-alignment, the internet was back up, Ginnie a little worse for wear.

I'm an insurance salesman.  I tried to fax in an insurance application, and the landline was down.  The only reason I keep a landline is for faxing.  I called the phone company.  After about 10 different selections and being on hold for half-an-hour, I got through to a service tech.  The phone would be repaired in two days.  They fixed it, and it promptly went down again.  I had moved the copy/fax machine and forgot to plug the phone line back in.  My bad.

The weather changed from needing furnace heat to 95 degree temperatures overnight.  No in-between.  We switched to AC.  The house cooled down a little, then the AC started blowing warm air.  Uh, oh.  I called our plumber.  Bad news: the heat pump and air handler we have were shot.  We needed a whole new system.  Ka-ching!  Three days later, in sweltering heat, and with a frazzled Ginnie, we have AC.  The weather cooled off.  Wouldn't you know it.

 What's going on?  Trouble comes in threes.

But here's something else that comes in threes.  It's Rick McIntyre's wolf books, “The Rise of Wolf 8,” “The Reign of Wolf 21,” and “The Redemption of Wolf 302.” 

Ginnie and I are going to Yellowstone National Park in June.  We were there last year and, on a large-animal wildlife tour in Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park, we actually saw and photographed wolves in the wild.  Fantastic!  Not only that, but while there, we had the pleasure of meeting and listening to a roadside talk by one of the world's foremost authorities on wolves, Rick McIntyre, author of the above three books.   

Since we're heading to Yellowstone again this year, and hope to see wolves, Ginnie and I thought we'd read Rick McIntyre's three books.  Never before have Ginnie and I been reading the same books at the same time and been more captivated by what we were reading.  We were in a race to see who would finish first.  Ginnie won, gosh darn her!  But these books are excellent summer reading whether you plan on seeing wolves or not.  McIntyre's wolf books are about life, family, survival, and caring for and protecting each other. 

Get this: Rick McIntyre has gotten up early and gone out to study wolves for over 3,650 days.  That's over 10 years.  He has documented the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone, the formation of packs, the selections of Alpha Female and Male (females are the pack leaders), and the benefit wolves have to the environment and ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park.  The exploding elk population was thinned out (wolves are a natural enemy), willow and cottonwood trees were allowed to re-establish along waterways (elk grazed on the tree shoots), and beavers now have tree material for dam construction and flood control.  The over-grazed mountainscape bloomed once again.   

When I was in college, I read the now classic, “Never Cry Wolf,” by Farley Mowat.  McIntyre's books are every bit, perhaps more, captivating and bound also to become classics.  In his words on Wolf 302: “We love stories about flawed individuals who turn their lives around and become heroes, for they give us hope that we also can choose to do better.”

Trouble comes in threes.  So do good books.      

Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or visit his website at

author, Curt Swarm, editorial, Empty Nest, farm, fort madison, Mt. Pleasant, opinion, Rick McIntyre, Wolves, Yellowstone


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