By Bob Spiwak

The absence of this column last week was noted by several people, and I apologize to those who suffer through it regularly. It was a time of snow plowing, shoveling, bad back and little travel. Even the regular Harts Pass blurb had to be forestalled. To that end we can report that the snow depth equipment has again gone Dixie but the more reliable “snow-water content” is on the job. As of Jan. 22 it is 134 percent of average. This was documented as the rains began, at least down here.

This is being written three days earlier than the usual Monday to allow for the big move of the newspaper from midtown Twisp to the outer reaches of what is called TwispWorks, where the main drag meets Highway 20, for the benefit of out-of-valley readers. Once ensconced, there should be no changes in the weekly reader.

At this point I wish to say that I’ll miss Sally Gracie’s Twispian writings and welcome Sarah Schrock to the illustrious back page. It bears noting that Sally and I grew up about 8 miles apart in Maryland; she in Baltimore and I in Towson.

After retirements from teaching, law enforcement, counseling criminals and public defender administration, I have added commercial and domestic snow plowing to the list. The timing of this decision was fortuitous because two days ago the big storm hit, and even today its remnants are dripping rain and occasional snow. What a mess, and how glad I am that Snow Time services are available. It was a delight yesterday to sit by the window, brandied coffee in warm fingers, watching someone else (Zach) doing the work. I shall not miss riding an open tractor in arctic temperatures especially when the wind is up.

What with the deep snow either covering or making bird feeders not accessible, Ms. Gloria came up with a great idea for feeding our feathered friends. From the woodpile she found a slab of pine with heavily indented bark. She mixes nutty peanut butter with various bird seeds ranging from tiny corn granules to sunflower seeds and swabs this mix into the bark. The birds love it, and their diminished numbers compared to years past have lessened the competition. Two regulars, a mountain chickadee and a steller’s jay, are bold enough to come begging for more food. The chickadee will sit on a windowsill or porch rail and stare in our direction. The jay takes a safer stance on a willow branch above a snow-covered hidden feeder of the past. Of course we accommodate them with seconds.

Meanwhile, we’ve seen no squirrels or chipmunks. They are probably safe and warm in their condos under 3 feet of snow. The dog occasionally hears or scents them and digs but always to no avail.

And speaking of dogs, I believe that February is the time for coyote mating and they will be yipping and yapping for a few weeks. Keep an eye out, or restrain your pooch from being drawn to the chorus. I believe there is credibility in the belief that a single coyote will attract a dog to play or something like that, and lure it to the pack, which will converge on and dine on the hapless animal. A bad way to go!