Off-the-wallBy Bob Spiwak

It’s the first day of February and we’re surrounded by snow, and the forecast is for colder weather. Yesterday, while looking for old copies of the Goat Wall Street Journal, I came across a calendar from 1982. In those days I did not use a journal, but important things like covering the Winthrop Town Council or a school board meeting for the paper were jotted into the appropriate date square on the calendar. I began to scan that to see what was happening 34 years ago.

Also recorded were the wake-up temperatures and weather conditions at wake-up time, which was a variable, but always before 9 a.m. Sometimes there was no entry, but on Jan. 3 it was 4 degrees below zero. The next day it was 8 below, and on Jan. 5 it reached minus 10. The month’s low of 22 below zero occurred on Jan. 6. The rest of the month saw a gradual increase to the high of 32 on Jan. 17.

Well, January this year is gone and I turned the page to February. The only temperature reading recorded was on Jan. 9, when it was 4 below zero at 7 a.m. Beyond that the only notable entry was 12 inches of snow and 23 degrees on Jan. 13.

I was on the verge of spring anticipation, but surprises can come at any time in this climate.

There are many people from the valley who flee the chill and effort of winter and head to a warmer climate for a period of respite. Some decide they have had enough and move permanently. Ms. Gloria suggested we check on some and see what they are doing.

With both the Reas and the Kleins, couples from the Lost River area who are selling or have sold their properties, we were able to make contact via email. Their responses are both similar and diverse. The similarity is getting to a warmer climate, both in Arizona but different parts of that state. In the northern part of the state, Mary notes that she seems to be cold most of the time. “Vegas winters are much warmer,” she notes, having spent several previous winters there, but she adds that it gets into the 50s a lot and that “compared to Mazama it’s a piece of cake.”

Marc Rea, a lifelong horseman who “likes playing with cows,” has taken up ranch roping, which is the slow vaquero style, with a group of others with the same interest. He is happier, being in a place where there are people of similar interests in a climate that allows the pursuit of a similar interest. Mary cites for herself the ability to work in a garden in the warmer clime. And “no more 45-minute drives to the grocery store. There is a nursery nearby. And Trader Joe’s and Costco are only 10 miles away.”

Well south of the Reas, 30 miles below Phoenix, Don and Pennie Klein are delighted with their new home: “We do all the things you can’t do in Mazama like … see a movie, golf every day, pick oranges, wear shorts and T-shirts,” they said. Don filled his gas tank at $1.63 a gallon. He is waiting for baseball spring training soon to open, and the Phoenix Open golf tournament is next week. Pennie is doing pottery and is involved with a hiking club.

Obviously, two distinct areas, four peoples’ disparate interests that coalesce into an escape from the hardships of Methow winter.

They are hardly alone.