By Sarah Schrock

We made the trek over the Loup to Omak to partake in the annual release of the much-anticipated holiday blockbuster, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” We weren’t alone either, running into other valley folks in the theater. This happens a lot — running into other Methowians elsewhere. When we see someone from our “tribe” outside our territory, it taps into a primitive need for a sense of belonging.

The Wenatchee Costco is a notoriously common spot to collide with acquaintances from the valley. It’s a funny thing to feel kinship at Costco, but it happens all the time.

We are all well into our winter habits and customs by this point, and as our daily patterns adapt to the cold, so too do our run-ins with others. It’s a gradual shift, but my run-ins with certain people abruptly change with the season and go in cycles. I have certain friends whom I rarely see in the summer, but more often in the winter. Similarly, I see some less frequently. Recently, I bumped into an old friend on the street multiple times in a week — someone I haven’t seen in months. It’s such a welcome surprise, especially during the holidays.

I wonder if this re-patterning that brings us closer to old friends — or further from them — in a cyclical, seasonal fashion is a built-in survival mechanism, like migration. Rather than material needs for food and shelter that an animal seeks, the shift in seasonal routines for we humans protects our emotional survival as communal species. It ensures that friendships and allies stay fresh and are not lost.

Photo by Sarah Schrock
A homemade bird feeder (upper right) attracted juncos this week in Twisp.

To observe nature’s own winter patterns of migration and change, old friends and newcomers are invited to come together on Dec. 31 at 6:30 a.m. at Cinnamon Twisp Bakery to partake in another annual tradition, the Christmas Bird Count. The Audubon Society’s Christmas bird count occurs during the month of December throughout North America. New birders of any experience level are invited to join in this year’s count.

First-time birders will be matched with more experienced birders to head out in a 15-mile diameter bird circle around Twisp. Many participants simply watch their feeders from the comfort of their own home, while others spend all day afoot in the field. According to event organizer Dave Rudholm, if you fill a feeder you should keep it full all winter so birds can rely on it. Also, be patient, it can take a while for them to find it if it’s freshly filled.

Each year there’s something novel of interest: a rare bird from the north or south, an elusive animal sighting. Stories and counts will be shared following the count at a potluck at the Rudholm’s home in the evening. For more information contact Dave at (509) 429-1105 or davidrudholm1@centurytel.net.

If you are looking for an easy, cheap, and bird-friendly gift or craft to create and share for the season, try toilet paper roll suet feeders. This craft is easy, fast, satisfying and very kid-friendly.

Materials

• Empty toilet or paper towel rolls (you can also use pine cones)

• Suet (bacon, beef, lamb, or pork fat) or vegetable shortening

• Birdseed

Directions

Slather suet on the surface of the toilet paper rolls. Roll it in bird seed. Place the rolls on the tips of branches and watch the birds come. Replace each week to keep the birds fatten and full!

Merry Christmas and may the Force be with for the remainder of the holidays!

PREVIOUSLY, IN TWISP

Email Sarah