By Ashley Lodato
Eighteen people doing anything together in Winthrop very nearly constitutes a mob, but few eyebrows were raised last week when a dozen-and-a-half Methow At Home (MAH) members took to the streets during Methow At Home’s second social event of the year, which combined three of life’s greatest pleasures and was aptly titled the “Walk and Talk and Coffee.” After meeting at the Winthrop Barn on a chilly and beautiful morning, the MAH participants walked through town, across the Sa Teek Wa bridge, into North Village, and wound up at Rocking Horse Bakery, where they were met by some additional members of MAH.
For some, the walk was a chance to make the acquaintance of Deirdre Cassidy, MAH’s newly hired coordinator. For others, it was a chance to get to know each other better, as some of the members are new to the valley while others have lived here since the 1960s. For all, it was satisfying to answer with a straight face the earnest question asked by a visitor who was having coffee and a pastry at Rocking Horse: “Do you know the name of this town?” Did they, indeed!
If you thought the nearly two dozen MAH walkers were a large group, you would have been in for quite a surprise had you hiked the Maple Pass loop on Thursday, as you would have been in the company of almost 60 sixth-graders and their chaperones. As part of the annual sixth-grade campout, the students completed the 7-mile hike near Rainy Pass, many of them for the first time. Students also experimented with archery, canoeing, plein air watercolors, poetry, and other activities during the three-day camp.
The camp involved mountains of gear, dozens of kids, and scores of food boxes, but when all was packed up on Friday afternoon not a trace remained at Falls Creek Campground, unless you count the iPhone that slipped out of a pocket and straight down the chute of an outhouse early one morning.
A third large gathering of valley folks took place on Saturday at Dave and Marilyn Sabold’s house at the Methow Conservancy’s 12th annual Cider Squeeze. Preparations took place several days before the event, with about a dozen volunteers picking apples donated by Deborah DeKalb, and cider experts Beth and John Sinclair of Sixknot Cider pre-pressing countless gallons of cider so that all guests could go home with a jug after the actual Squeeze.
For the second year in a row, Paul Herget of Twisp built and donated 60 birdhouses, which went home with Squeeze guests. Paul started this practice in the summer of 2014 after the fires, and felt compelled to carry on the tradition this year. One couple, who lost all of their existing birdhouses in the Tunk Valley fire last month, were particularly excited to take home the first birdhouse in their new collection.
And a final surprise — the duo Squirrel Butter, who were playing a benefit at the Twisp Valley Grange on Saturday evening, showed up halfway through the Squeeze and joined Paul Gitchos, Brad Pinkerton, Peter Neitlich and John Almquist in a bluegrass jam session.
Call it cider, call it apple juice — I call it community.