No-Bad-DaysBy Don Nelson

When does a longtime local event become “traditional?” When does an institution become “historic?” Or “venerable?” When does a single person in a community become “beloved” or “iconic?” What does it mean to call someone “heroic?”

These are convenient descriptors for newspaper writers, because they are easily bestowed and widely understood. But such terms can be overused to the point of becoming meaningless. Their value lies only in their credibility, and still they may fail us.

I don’t think anyone who’s lived in the Methow Valley long enough to understand what makes it special would question any superlative adjective used to describe Rayma Hayes, who died last week. Rayma founded Little Star Montessori School in Winthrop in 1982. It would be difficult to exaggerate her influence, through the school and other activities, in making this a better place to live.

It would be equally difficult to imagine the valley without Little Star. Hundreds of students, and their respective families, are directly connected to the school for the rest of their lives. Rayma created a setting in which learning patterns are developed, curiosities awakened, creative talents nourished and enduring friendships formed.

Rayma set that all in motion and kept its momentum going for more that three decades. That Little Star carries on without her — while embracing her memory and spirit — is testament to the power of her commitment. That so many cherish the Little Star experience is profound evidence of her lasting impact.

The history of the Methow Valley is still being written. Rayma Hayes earned her own chapter. I’d call that monumental.

Warm shoulder

If “shoulder season” has a peak, we must be in it. Spring break has largely emptied out the valley, no major community events are on the near horizon and the North Cascades Scenic Highway will be snowbound for weeks to come. The terrain is all ragged snow patches, newly blooming potholes and muddy yards. Sometimes on the way to my cabin at night, I’ll pass through Winthrop and not see a single vehicle parked on the street between Hotel Rio Vista and the four-way stop.

At the same time, the mornings seem downright balmy, spring things (birds, flowers, browsing deer, etc.) are making themselves evident, and the relative calm is welcome, at least for a while.

The delayed pass opening may alter the way we start thinking about late spring and early summer, but won’t interrupt the patterns that we are used to. The Zumiez people will be here. The ’49er Days events will go on as planned. Memorial Day will still mark the unofficial kick-off of the tourism season. And the pass will open, probably to heavy traffic bringing eager visitors for the following three or four months.

So enjoy the lull if you can. Things will start getting busy again before we know it — starting with this weekend’s opening of the Methow Valley Farmers Market. Get there ahead of the crowds.

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