Photo courtesy of Galen Willett Participants in the “Art of Victorian Flower Pounding” workshop held by Sara Ashford at the Culler Studio, TwispWorks, on Aug. 20: from left, Karen Dahl of Winthrop, Gaylen Willett of Chelan, Grace Hockley of Entiat and Sam Edmunds-Owen of Winthrop.

Photo courtesy of Galen Willett
Participants in the “Art of Victorian Flower Pounding” workshop held by Sara Ashford at the Culler Studio, TwispWorks, on Aug. 20: from left, Karen Dahl of Winthrop, Gaylen Willett of Chelan, Grace Hockley of Entiat and Sam Edmunds-Owen of Winthrop.

By Sarah Schrock

With the bus barn demolished, the community plaza at TwispWorks taking form, and a new town hall or civic building, as it’s being called, slated for the near future, the face of town is slowing changing.

The new building on Glover Street next to the River Bank has also taken shape as the BMW of the valley. That’s right — apparently, the structure is employing a German-engineered, double-walled shell, like an oil tanker able to withstand a break. Or in this case, to allow for superior insulation for a near net-zero structure. So what may seem small in stature will have big savings for its occupants, with little heating or cooling required.

Cooling would be good. Despite our near fire-free season, global temperatures are still reaching all-time highs, and a recent trip to the ocean affirmed in my mind that major changes are happening offshore. For our finale of a summer vacation, my family had the opportunity to fly over the San Juans and the Straits of Georgia last week to British Columbia. During the flight over, my 7-year-old observed and inquired, “Why is the water so murky?”

“Algae,” I stated, somewhat off handedly. Intrigued at the myriad of aqua-marine hues, and the opaqueness of water, it became more evident over the course of four days that what looked almost like tropical aqua green waters was actually something much different.

During our visit, our normal snorkeling adventures that take us to the amazing underwater world of the protected waters of the Pacific were made impossible by the thick layers of algae. A brief investigation into the water quality, which included a timely article in National Geographic regarding acidification of the Pacific Ocean, informed us that the explosion of algae appears to be directly related to rising ocean temperatures and oxygen depletion, known affectionately as the blob — a lifeless zone of growing ecosystem decline.

Like the horror flick from the 1950s, The Blob is here. We should be on alert, even here — inland waters are also at risk. It has arrived at Patterson Lake, giving the water a green cast, resulting in recommendations from Sun Mountain to “shower off” after swimming, also to avoid swimmer’s itch. Though still fit for swimming at Patterson, these blooms can become toxic to people and pets, and are predicted by scientists to increase with rising temperatures. Last year, Rufus Woods Lake was found to exceed health department standards for the presence of a neurotoxin produced by an algae. So as it would seem The Blob is real.

If you are as disturbed about the approaching blob as I am, and about that fact that the onset of school marks the end of summer, a little artistic energy might be just what’s needed. As fall draws nearer, you can join Sara Ashford at her TwispWorks Culler studio and create your own blobs of color on attractive silk scarves. Gaylen Willett, of Chelan, shared with me her delight in partaking in one of Sara’s workshops entitled “The Art of Victorian Flower Pounding.” A self-declared amateur artist with fledgling abilities, the class gave Gaylen, along with two ladies from Winthrop and one woman from Entiat, the satisfaction of donning a self-made art piece. With the guidance of Sara on the techniques of flower pounding and dying, in a matter of hours the students created their own attractive batik-like accessories. The next “Art of Victorian Flower Pounding” workshop will be held Sept. 10.

Among the many offering at TwispWorks this fall, l like Sara’s silk scarves. You can stay clear of The Blob by learning new crafts such as leather working, superior coffee making, how to draw a leaf, and nature journaling. Visit TwispWorks.org online or make a trip to campus to see the new plaza taking shape, and register for a class.

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