By Don Nelson
I’ve about given up trying to explain what I call the “Methow karma,” that mystical web of connections, coincidences and absurdly serendipitous encounters that create a universal community all out of proportion to the valley’s size and population — in defiance of the Methow’s rural remoteness and persistent state of un-discoveredness.
I just accept that it will happen, and then happen again.
Here’s how it works. Many years ago I worked with a young reporter named Katherine Lanpher at the Pioneer Press newspaper in St. Paul, Minnesota, along with my significant other, Jacqui. We stayed friends over the years while our career paths took us hither and yon.
Eventually I ended up here and Katherine ended up in New York City where she, through other connections to connections that trace back to the Methow, became involved in the Mazama Festival of Books as a host and interviewer of guest authors.
At last year’s festival, I went to watch and listen as Katherine interviewed writers including Shannon Polson, author of a memoir titled North of Hope: A Daughter’s Arctic Journey, and at the time a resident of Seattle.
Last week I stopped by the Rocking Horse Bakery in Winthrop and encountered a woman in line ahead of me. We looked at each other with recognition and exchanged greetings, although it was evident she knew my name while I fished for hers. She introduced herself as Shannon Polson, and I instantly knew why she seemed so familiar. It turns out that she, her husband and their two young children have just relocated to the Methow Valley.
Shannon dropped by my office on Friday and we had a great chat about all kinds of things, and she expressed how grateful she and her family are to be here.
So. On Sunday, I took an aimless drive and for no particular reason decided to visit the rock climbing area on Lost River Road west of Mazama, locally identified as Fun Rock for the east-facing slab that offers multiple routes of varying difficulty.
It was something of a nostalgic pilgrimage. I used to rock climb and I miss it a lot, but back surgery left me with a bunch of fused vertebrae and six titanium bolts in my spine. My neurosurgeon told me it would be OK to climb — as long as I didn’t fall. I turned my still-usable climbing shoes over to Goat’s Beard Mountain Supplies to be used as rentals, and now I’m a spectator.
At the rock, I came across a family who were all climbers — Rendezvous residents Harold and Jill Sheley and their young sons Graham and Carter. (That’s Jill at the top of Page A1 in this week’s issue, scaling one of the Fun Rock routes.) We got to talking about many things including life in the valley, and she mentioned meeting, that morning in church, a woman who had just moved to the valley with two young kids.
“Let me guess,” I said. “Shannon Polson.” Jill looked at me in astonishment. How did I know that?
“Methow karma,” I said, as if that explained everything.
More times than I can even remember, it does.