By Sarah Schrock
There’s a magical ephemeral period in the desert when an oasis emerges and life surges from the ground. Hidden from the surface awaiting the water to loosen the soil, to moisten the seeds, and to wet their skin, amphibious critters that have been dormant underground anticipate their emergence. Here in the valley a similar magic brings forth frogs, salamanders, bugs, birds and wake boarders as the winter water pools and collects in ephemeral ponds.
That’s right — pulled by a land vehicle along the road, wake boarders were spotted carving the glassy water last week in a vernal pool along Elbow Coulee. It appears a group of young people used their imagination to create a new amphibious form of the water sport taking advantage of ephemeral water while it lasts. An unusual sight, as this body of water is usually a murky, swampy, shallow pool that dries to a cracked mudflat.
This year’s melt-off has filled depressions and ponds that haven’t seen water in years to unprecedented depths. Atop Stud Horse Mountain, it’s been possible to launch small craft and go for a stand-up paddleboard ride in a swale that usually gets a little spongy at best. Similarly, on Signal Hill, a new pond attracted a chorus of frogs that found their way to the pool to do their song and dance, resulting millions of egg masses.
Laurel and Kate Carlton of Twisp hiked up to the pond, collected some of these eggs and pollywogs and brought them to Little Star Montessori School in Winthrop, where their metamorphosis has been a topic of wonderment for the preschoolers as they watch stubby legs emerge and tails retreat. The frogs will be returned to the new pool, even if it’s dried up. Apparently amphibians are imprinted to seek out vernal pools and ponds in their natal areas, so a frog must go back to where it was a pollywog to ensure survival.
As these pools begin to dry up, the creative energy of young people will have to be directed elsewhere. And there’s no dearth of creativity in the young people in this valley thanks to cultivation of art and design made possible through our local artists and arts organizations. Confluence Gallery’s annual Trashion Show is one such event where local youth participation has grown over the years. The fifth annual event attracted a number of teen designers and models this year.
McKenzie Woodworth, a sophomore at Liberty Bell High School, crafted a floor-length overcoat out of her childhood artwork, sports ribbons, and event bib numbers. Fringed with old yarn, the coat was an intricate collage of color composed in a multi-colored patches cut and pasted to a shower curtain to create a quilt-like appearance.
Hours of tedious work went into the assembly of these detailed outfits that ran the gamut of discarded rubber tire tubes, plastic bailing twine, and carpet pads. The evening’s events culminate with a dance party where the crowd can view the pieces up-close to appreciate the hard work and energy.
The weekend rounded out with the annual spring cattle drive through town on May Day.
If you didn’t get a bouquet of flowers dropped on your doorstep, go out and get your own. Like the ephemeral pools and puddles now beginning to disappear in the hills, the wildflowers are peaking and won’t last.
Looking forward to Saturday (May 7), when Doran Ranch in Twisp becomes the finish line of Sunflower Relay, attracting hundreds of visitors from around the region. Live music and food will make it for a festive event, and locals usually bring in many of the prizes. So grab your camp chair and head to the ranch for this annual event to cheer on your friends and neighbors and enjoy the last of the bloom.