Where to begin?
How does one adequately catalog, characterize and credit all of the generosity, bravery, selflessness, determination, ingenuity, strength, community spirit, inspiration, patience, endurance and even humor that have sustained this community the past two weeks?
It’s almost too risky to compile a list of the good stories, because we’d be sure to miss a few, or more than a few, among the ranks of what you might call civilian first-responders — folks of all stripes who were there when their neighbors needed them.
Even among the most noteworthy of super-citizens, one stands out by universal Methow Valley acclaim: Hank Konrad, owner of Hank’s Harvest Foods in Twisp, who maintained the store (at what had to be significant expense) as an oasis of normality in spite of every imaginable challenge — even while his own home was threatened by fires.
Like so many people who stepped up, Hank probably assumed he was just doing his job. We took that attitude at the News as we hustled to keep up with a barrage of information. It was a privilege to be part of this community and try to keep it informed as we all struggled with the same challenges.
Many people have expressed gratitude that we have kept so much information flowing on our Facebook page, and that we managed to publish a print edition. We know there is much more to do, many more heartwarming stories to be told, many more issues to be explored, questions to be answered. We’ll be working on those topics for a long time.
It’s been instructive to just walk around and talk to people in Twisp and Winthrop — it seems like everyone has a compelling anecdote that exemplifies the Methow spirit. One incident that charmed and humbled me occurred last week while I was waiting in line for a latte at Blue Star Coffee Roasters. A woman approached and asked if I was Don from the newspaper. Yup, I said, and she handed me a dollar bill — because she had inadvertently taken two newspapers off of a sales rack and wanted to make sure she paid for both of them.
“That’s the Methow,” a friend responded when she heard that story.
How to help
People from all over the planet have been asking what they can do for us. The food, materials and money they have donated and continue to contribute are vital and appreciated. But if there is any message we can all unite in sending to the world beyond our valley, it’s this:
Visit the Methow.
Our tourism-dependent economy took an incalculable blow during the fires and prolonged power outage. The news that went out to the world didn’t necessarily overplay the damage or tragedy, but may have convinced some people that this isn’t a safe place to visit for a while. So let people know, however you can: We are open for business, and our natural attractions are intact.
The best way for us to get back on our feet is to get busy taking care of what we hope is a pent-up wave of visitors.
On the lighter side: Have you ever thought, “wouldn’t it be something to see Don Nelson and David Gottula singing and dancing together in a drunken revelry?” That unlikely day arrives Friday (Aug. 1) when The Merc Playhouse production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night opens after a fire-related delay, staged “cowboy style” by director Ki Gottberg. I play Sir Toby Belch, Dave is Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and it’s all done in Shakespeare’s language with a western twist. There are also many other people in the cast who are a lot more talented, but no one does “wasted and stupid” in cowboy hats like Dave and I. So get on down here and see it. It’ll be fun.