By Sarah Schrock

I write this on the brink of coming home from Canada after a few days of retreat from the valley.  It’s always refreshing to get away, to see new faces and places, and gain some perspective. You only have to go north across the border to have a real international experience. British Columbia is full of people from around the world, thanks to the whole British Colonial Imperialist thing a few years back.

We are coming home to yet another winter storm watch. When we left, we dug ourselves out of 8 inches of fresh glorious snow. I know some of you out there are beginning to curse the unexpected heavy blanket of fluff that keeps offering itself down from above. Just as we were leaving, our neighbor lamented, “I sure love the beautiful snow, but it is a lot of work.”

Agreed, snow management is more intense around the house than in recent memory, but like the garden in summer, if we didn’t have it, how would we spend our time bumbling around the house? I know you all can think of something, but really, is there anything as satisfying as a freshly shoveled walkway or a tidy garden bed? Pure and simple, tending the home has its merits.

Coming home holds significant meaning for Luke and Melissa Hughes of lower Fraser Creek this MLK weekend. After their home barely escaped the Carlton Complex Fire in 2014, Melissa was making dinner when without warning Frazer Creek jumped its banks and sent a torrent of debris and mud slamming into their house. She escaped with her then 6-year-old son, Logan, and new infant, Jackson, in tote as the mud sloshed against her car tires. The muck was devastating.

Luke and Melissa had to decide to salvage or rebuild. After much deliberation and no guarantee the creek would stay put, they rebuilt on higher ground. So after nearly 18 months of being displaced, this deserving family of four is finally coming home. Good luck, Luke and Melissa, as you settle into your new house, and welcome home.

Another welcome home goes out to Tori Karpenko, or rather to his beautiful acrylic images of the North Cascades. His paintings, recently featured in Seattle’s Traver Gallery from Nov. 6-Jan. 8, are now home in the valley, including a 1930 replica of a fire lookout made out of reclaimed wood and windows from TwispWorks. Getting it all home involved risking life and limb as he drove the snow-covered passes in the largest U-Haul you can rent, dodging deer, stray dogs and raccoons along the route. Rest assured he won’t sit still for long; besides moving snow, he’s anxious to get back to his studio for his next masterpiece. Welcome home, Tori and “The Lookout.”  Check out Tori’s portfolio at, and if you’re in the market for a lookout tower, it’s a remarkable structure and for sale.

So to all those coming home to the dread of moving more snow this week, at least you’re not coming home to weeding carrots (yet). And to those of you who stayed around for MLK, can you shovel our drive for us please?