Ashley LodatoBy Ashley Lodato

And then came the rain. It was just a sprinkle at first, teasing us with warm drops that evaporated immediately upon contact with the parched earth. But later, after we rushed to close windows and bring in laundry off the line, we marveled at the sight of dusty cars washing clean in the deluge and patios turning into wading pools. And, oh, how to describe the beauty of the green poking up through the black?

We knew, however, that this much rain was both a blessing and a curse. As we watched small rivulets in the driveway quickly develop into open trenches, fire prayers were answered but were echoed by a new set of woes, as burned hills succumbed to the relentless downpour. Driving home from the mountains on Sunday night we encountered a slide above the hairpin turn; waiting for our turn at the narrow passage the highway crews had cleared, we peered through the dark up at the slopes above us, wondering whether another load of land might be unleashed on top of those of us in line. None of us would have been surprised.

I’m overhearing soul-searching conversations everywhere—at the grocery store, at the gas station, at the library—and many of them involve the central question of “Why would anyone want to live here?” For those whose only real experience with the Methow is July and August of 2014, the question begs true consideration. But for those who have known long hot summer days at the river, the endless trails of the North Cascades, black starry skies punctuated by meteor showers, and alpine meadows strewn with wildflowers, there really is no question.

To Methow newbies, the summer of 2014 is like that child you see throwing a temper tantrum in the supermarket. You cringe, pity the parent, and move quickly away, without ever knowing all the wonderful qualities that child demonstrates 99 percent of the time. But to anyone who knows the Methow’s magic, this summer may just be accepted as the terrible price to pay for what in many ways is an idyllic place to live at all other times except for this particular summer.

Clear skies, clean water, a vast wilderness playground, neighbors who have your back, a resilient and resourceful community. Fire, smoke, no electricity, windstorms, landslides. In spite of everything, we choose this.

PREVIOUSLY, IN WINTHROP