By Sarah Schrock

They called for doom and gloom, but were mistaken. Forecasters that is, not the Republican frontrunners. The unpredictable winds did deflate the balloon festival a bit, much to the dismay of hundreds of onlookers. Thankfully, a few balloonists cranked up the fans and hot air to give free tethered rides to eager fans.

I suppose some credit to the forecasters is due. They did, after all, predict the heavy rains that sent debris and earth across Highway 153 in yet another outwash rendering our main artery blocked like a sludge of cholesterol. While the Loup was still passable, it saw its share of rocks and debris. Imagine, now in sprinter (spring plus winter) if both highways were closed, rendering us cut off from the rest of world. Not a bad prospect in some respects, but an isolation scenario is likely, if not probable in the near future, and we’ve seen it come close these past summers.

Methow Ready is here to help us prepare for the inevitable with an upcoming event on Tuesday (March 15). I will say it’s a bit ominous having a preparedness seminar on the ides of March, but superstitions aside, the talk regarding insurance coverage (with free pizza and dessert) at the Education Station at TwispWorks, will likely have some helpful insights. RSVP at and browse their site for tips and checklists on how to be prepared for the next natural disaster.

March, they say, comes “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” One mountain lioness and her cubs keep making an appearance in the Twin Lakes area. Nicole Ringgold came home on her bike to the mama cougar sitting in the middle of her driveway. The cat ran toward the house and hid under her husband’s vehicle, leaving her frozen in the drive. Eventually the cat scattered, but has since been seen with her two cubs and trailing coyotes throughout the neighborhood for days.

On another wildlife note, two Burgar Street lady trail runners ventured up Benson Creek last week in search of some bare earth to trot upon. Unbeknownst to them, they passed by a fresh kill and summoned the wolves. When they stopped to refuel and hydrate, the she-runners were serenaded by the long, mournful howls of the nearby canines. Perhaps a territorial song telling them, “hey, that’s our deer, move on.” Feeling the watchful eyes upon them, they unanimously decided to retreat toward their car where they then encountered the deer carcass, wolf scat, and footprints on the road they had missed on the way up.

One animal tale not to have missed was The Last Salmon at the Merc Playhouse. The musical adaptation of this children’s story told an epic tale of two young salmon adventuring their way through the circle of life. Facing obstacles, fears of the unknown, and love were a few of the universal themes from the stage. The performance reminded me of watching a live Northwest version of “A Prairie Home Companion” with its whimsical sound effects, goofy characters and catchy jingles.

Speaking of “A Prairie Home Companion,” for public radio nerds like myself, you’re aware that Garrison Keillor is nearing retirement and bringing one of his last shows to Spokane in May.  The show is sold out. At a recent igloo party, Tom Gehring recommended I put out a call to inundate Garrison’s inbox in a plea for a Methow Valley show. Just think of it, if we all emailed Keillor at he might just show up. It’s worth a try. Pleas might include how Twisp is akin to Lake Wobegon, the beauty of the flowers in May, or that the drive to Spokane is too unpredictable with occasion haboobs in the spring.

Unsure what this sprinter season will bring moment by moment, my friend Patty Somerville recommended to her sister-in-law from Texas, who will be visiting this week: dressing like an onion is the way to go. Being prepared for the inevitable large carnivore encounter or natural disaster is the prudent and sensible thing to do. Of course if I was prudent and sensible I wouldn’t be asking you to email Garrison Keillor to try to convince him to show up.