By Joanna Bastian

Ode to Carlton

Carlton, the Mediterranean of the Methow

The clearest, bluest swimming hole

Sandy beaches lined with umbrellas to block the sun

Where locals splash and visit, enjoying summertime fun

Across the road, the Carlton Store – cold drinks and snacks

Ice cream, dinner, dry goods, fishing gear, T-shirts and hats

Right next door to the weed store

Down the street from the Carlton Feed & Supply Store

To make the post office, better be quick

Limited hours demand a well-planned trip

That fine-looking garden belongs to Max Judd

By hand, he pollinates squash by paintbrush

Once upon a single apple tree,

Max Judd grafted 22 varieties

Then there was the time, Farmer of the Year he won,

“Don’t remember what year it was, but I got a nice Stetson.”

He remembers the deep freeze,

When frozen sap busted open all the trees

Even today, local farmers carry on the tradition

Willowbrook Farm and Ruby Slippers provide organic nutrition

There’s the big red schoolhouse, where little Willy Bigger

Fell in love with Dorothy Miller

The schoolhouse became home to Mrs. Thelma Roos

A vast “rock-hound” collection arranged in many rows

Students traveled through on geological field trips

Mrs. Roos sent them home with labeled specimen starter kits

A collector and artist, a lover of stone

Crushed rocks into powder to paint pictures of home

Deke Smith stirred moonshine made from apple mash

While sharing stories of a distant past

Deke recalled all night parties on long winter nights

The whole town would gather to dance and feast, fiddle and drink

One wintry night, some “hooligans” played a terrible trick

They snuck into the nursery and swapped the blankets

Mothers gathered their babies without waking

Identifying the bundles by the knitting

When the babies awoke later that day

A massive baby swap was underway

Abbie’s mum would sing a pretty tune, “Where did you learn that song, dear mother?”

“At church,” she replied, “we used to go all the time until it washed down the river.”

Floods, and freezing, and wild fires can create a complex

But Carlton remains, prepared for whatever comes next

PREVIOUSLY IN LOWER VALLEY

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