By Joanna Bastian

A receding snowpack forms small rivulets by the porch steps before trickling down the walkway into puddles to become small ponds that burst their pothole dams in a rush to the creek that rolls into the river and onward to the sea.

In the morning I linger on the porch and listen to changing current of the creek — growing ever stronger each day. During afternoon errands I pause in parking lots, just to listen to the rising call of red winged black birds as they sing their joy for longer days of sunshine and freshly opened waterways.

Since early December, I have looked forward to each new post on Nicole Ringgold’s blog, She challenged herself to create 30 botanical pieces of art in silver. The results are simply stunning.

In her greenhouse studio inside Twisp’s YardFood, Nicole is surrounded by the inspiring allure of succulents, flowers, herbs, trees, fruits and vegetables. Her first piece of her botanical challenge was a succulent named for its resemblance to a string of pearls. As she nears completion of her botanical challenge, each piece clearly displays Nicole’s dexterous artistry, and eye for delicate detail.

Nicole’s Botanical Challenge blog posts with silvery images of lavender, raspberries and cedar boughs give me a sense of eager anticipation. Her most recent botanical creation last week of western sage sent me out the door in search of early spring trails in the desert.

Photo by Joanna Bastian Ice Age flood views above the Palouse River are stunning this time of year.

Photo by Joanna Bastian

Ice Age flood views above the Palouse River are stunning this time of year.

And that, my friends, is how I ended up at Palouse Falls State Park in southern Washington State this last weekend. It was the welcome fix to “cabin fever” with long scenic views, desert birds, and the cleansing scent of sage.

Eight miles downriver from Palouse Falls is Lyons Ferry state park. A trail along the basalt cliffs of the river canyon connects the two parks, and is a section of the much larger proposed Ice Age National Geologic Trail: a network of marked touring trails in the Pacific Northwest.

A stroll in the high mountain desert along an Ice Age trail is not the only fix to cabin fever. Music by the River at Twisp River Suites starts up again this month. Live music and incredibly flavorful meals are the perfect cure to soggy mud-season blues.

After a long winter filled with hearty stews, your taste buds are probably yearning for a light and tangy zest. I found the perfect spring potato salad at Twisp River Suites last spring, and Kori Burwell generously agreed to share her recipe.

Kori’s creamy potato salad with fresh herbs

5 lbs baby red potatoes

5 tbs unseasoned rice vinegar

1 cup mayonnaise

5 green onions, thinly sliced

2 celery stalks with tops

1/2 cup fresh Parsley

1/2 cup fresh Basil

4 tbs fresh dill

zest of 2 lemons

salt and pepper


Steam potatoes until tender. Drain and cool. Cut potatoes into cubes. Place one layer of potatoes in large bowl. Sprinkle with rice wine vinegar, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Continue layering potatoes and adding vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss with celery, onion, herbs and lemon. Add mayo and toss again. Cover and chill for a couple of hours.