WINTHROPBy Ashley Lodato

About a dozen elementary school kids – mostly second- and fourth-grade girls – were lucky enough to attend a writing workshop with a published author at Trail’s End Bookstore on Saturday afternoon. Methow and Seattle-based award-winning writer of young-adult fiction Dia Calhoun provided the students with a framework for writing a piece of fiction and quizzed them on their story elements, from asking them to identify their story’s hero to imagining what obstacles their hero faces during his/her journey.

Conflicts ranged from the bus engine exploding to the threat of a creek being filled in to make a road (if that’s not what a typical Methow child sees as a central threat, I don’t know what is). Another young Methow imagination introduced the seemingly ludicrous idea of pocket gophers actually being beneficial (they chewed through the tires of the bulldozer that was trying to destroy her garden). After the workshop, 7-year-old Linnea Rose Crandall was overheard telling her mother, “My head is just so full of ideas now!”

The sixth annual Brandenburg Memorial Crab Feed & Auction treated guests to a tasty crab dinner and a small auction, featuring what I believe to be the most creative auction item I’ve heard about this year: a potato gun.

Much preparation goes into this auction that supports a scholarship for valley youth, including a trip over to the west side to fetch crabs. Sheila Brandenburg said the crabs were extra feisty this year, resulting in the hands of the crab collectors getting pretty beat up.

I was at the Winthrop Barn the day before the crab feed, setting up for a Methow Arts concert, when some visitors from Whidbey Island stopped in to look around. “We come through here every fall and we’ve always wanted to see what this place looks like inside,” the women told me. They took a peek inside and got a snapshot of the Barn at that particular moment in time, but the fun thing about the Barn is that you never really know what it’s going to look like inside. You might stop in one night and see chairs set up in concert formation, yet 12 hours later it’s all red-and-white checked tablecloths and brightly colored plastic crab buckets. And a week later it’s transformed into a flea market.

Just shy of 30 participants of all ages turned out to roller-ski, bike and walk around the 14-mile Chewuch loop to raise money for the Peniel House school and orphanage in the Congo. The youngest participant was 1.5-year-old Eldin Smith, who walked a bit and rode in the bike trailer behind his mom, Sarah Schrock. About 30 donors from the community gave pledges to support the event, which raised $1,000 toward Peniel House’s new building.