By Don Nelson


Better late than even later. The week’s overdue dosage of seasonally appropriate snow — albeit likely to be mitigated by temperatures nudging 40 degrees and some drizzle — may give the valley just enough coverage to limp into March with somewhat skiable conditions, particularly at the Mazama end of the valley and up in the mountains where the heli-skiers venture.


On Monday night I watched a steady flutter of flakes pile up in front of the cabin, and wondered whether I’d need to do some shoveling in the morning (not necessary, I powered out), when the county plow truck would come by (pretty early, and did a nice job), and if I should have the driveway plowed again (Tom and Fae will get a call).


Despite those logistical concerns, it makes for lovely scenery, the way we think the valley is supposed to look all winter. That’s how visitors expect it to look too, and reports of spotty snow conditions (don’t blame the media — it is what it is) can make people doubtful about coming our way.


Where there is snow, the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association has done a remarkable job of keeping trails in the best condition possible. But the off-again, off-again, and off-yet-again snowfall episodes have forced cancellation or modification of several annual events. Some have been relocated, but once cancelled it’s difficult to un-cancel something that takes planning and preparation. The events that went on as scheduled were carried off with panache. Snowshoe softball is on tap this weekend in Winthrop, where it could be a little sloppy. Tour of the Methow departs from Mazama on Saturday (Feb. 15).


Just when you think winter has wimped out, it’ll rise up and smack ya. Saturday night I was in Chelan, and by the time I started back the snow was falling fast and thick. Coming down off that hill in the dark was a bit dicey, with reduced visibility and uncertain pavement conditions. Even Highway 97 required a fair amount of navigation by way of roadside reflectors.


That didn’t faze some of the people headed in the same direction. I opt for super-cautious in such conditions, even in a four-wheel drive SUV with studded tires. Still, I was surprised to see cars that I wouldn’t drive that fast hydroplaning past me, throwing up slush roostertails. It took a lot longer than usual to get back to Cub Creek. I didn’t mind, despite the tense upper-body muscles.


I was in Chelan because the nice folks who own the wonderful, 100-year-old Ruby Theatre had invited me to say a few words to their Saturday night audience before the showing of Nebraska, the movie whose screenplay was written by my brother Bob Nelson. So yeah, I’m basking a bit in the reflected glory of Bob’s Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay (Nebraska is also up for best picture and best male actor Oscars, among other nominations). I’m kind of a surrogate celebrity, I guess. I’ve been invited to do the same thing on Feb. 25 when Nebraska is shown (for free) at the Mazama Community Club. Unless it pops up in Omak before then, it might be the Okanogan County premiere for the movie.


Saturday night was only the second time I’ve seen the movie, and I noticed some details I hadn’t spotted earlier — things that would register with only a few people in the world. Maybe I’ll share a few of those.



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