By Sarah Schrock

I guess fire season isn’t quite over. Sunday was proof of that. People have started their annual burn piles to clear out unwanted debris and vegetation, but the danger for spreading isn’t over. I thought the familiar smell of smoke was just fireplaces and burn piles as I returned home from a walk in the afternoon, but not so lucky. I witnessed the fire scars up Finley Canyon early Monday morning on a run with a friend and our dogs when we ran into fire crews doing mop-up. The Finley Slope fire, as it is called, was apparently the result of a homeowner burning an anthill.

Burning anthills is effective at ridding your yard of ants, but there are alternatives. I have used different attack methods over the years and here’s what I have learned: It usually takes a few stabs, regardless of the method. I have used boric acid, diatomaceous earth, Terro poison, and I have dug them, boiled them, and yes burned them. I find boiling water to be very effective and obviously the least-toxic, however, it can be a little inconvenient as you might need a few gallons of boiling water to tackle a big hill. 

There seem to be a lot of piles to be dealt with around the valley, and while burning them is quite gratifying, it might not be the best answer. First, piles of yard debris are still being collected at the transfer station for disposal – so you don’t have to burn. However, as of this week, you need to sort it from the rest of your garbage because of apple maggot quarantine. That’s really not that hard to do, is it?

Second, there is a growing pile of donated items at the Methow Valley Senior Center and volunteer sorters are getting buried in it, not making much of a dent, as donations keep streaming in. The Senior Center could use a few more regular volunteers to help sort and organize, at least to get through the heap. To become a volunteer, stop in the center and pick up an application. Their next events will be their annual Christmas Sales on Nov. 17 and Dec. 1. These are also the dates of the Christmas Bazaar at the Community Center next door.

Tis the season for swaps and thrifts to add or subtract from your pile. You can take your piles of kid’s clothes to a new exchange at The Cove II coming up on Saturday (Nov. 10). Children’s lightly worn items can be exchanged for new used clothes at the first ever Kids Closet Swap, 9 a.m.-noon. Bring your lightly worn items, sorted by size and gender to The Cove II and walk away with new clothes for your kids.

The Ski Swap is also happening Saturday (Nov. 10) at the Winthrop Barn, with piles of gear.  Hosted by North Cascades Mountain Guides and the Nordic Team, the annual ski swap benefits the Nordic Team, which receives 15 percent of the sales. Doors open at 10 a.m. for shoppers with a $2 entry fee, but vendors are asked to arrive at 7:30 p.m., and no later than 9:30 p.m. Friends of the Winthrop Library is also staging a book and bake sale during the ski swap.

Piling on to this theme of piles, I would be remiss to note there is a growing pile of items in my house that belong to people I know, but I don’t know who these things belong to (make sense?). I have kids’ socks (singles and pairs), T-shirts for all ages, soccer shorts, a Stumptown Coffee insulated mug (very nice, I might keep if not claimed), a glass custard dish, and little girl’s pink underpants that for some reason my boys won’t wear – go figure. This pile must soon go, so if you think it’s yours, or want a child-sized Led Zeppelin T-shirt, come get it! 


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