By Sarah Schrock
As the visiting trucks and trailers funneled out of town after the first weekend of hunting season, I couldn’t help but chuckle at two large bucks grazing in front yards along Burgar and May streets. These stags knew what they were doing, hunkering down in the safety of town limits. I have come to believe the townie deer have a particular migratory pattern inherited by many generations and their survival is directly linked to knowing the boundaries of town limits.
Of course not all deer are safe in town. Vehicles, dogs and fences can pose fatal threats. I recently heard the unbelievable story of a buck that died in an attempt to clear a garden fence. He missed, violently crashing into the wire mesh and succumbed to what was deduced to be a broken neck. Washington state allows harvesting of road kill with a permit, but what about a deer that kills itself by running into your fence? I guess that’s part of the cycle of life.
The cycle of life is playing itself out in the changing colors of trees bursting with color this week. Deciduous trees and shrubs contain an array of pigments that display different colors in their leaves. During the growing season, most plants are dominated by chlorophyll, the green pigment that is also responsible for photosynthesis. However, as the daylight shortens and temperatures drop, chlorophyll degenerates and the other pigments known as carotenoids and anthocyanins reflect other wavelengths of the spectrum like oranges, yellows, reds, purples and browns. Each plant has its own concentrations and unique blend to create a varying spectrum. Temperature, light and to a lesser degree moisture and stress determine the vibrancy of color each year.
Nearly 20 courageous souls braved the rain to observe the changing colors on the “Trees of Twisp Tour” Saturday. Dwight Filer and I guided eager learners and tree lovers on a botanical, historical and visual tour of the wide variety of trees that compose our urban forest. Three hours of pelting rain didn’t diminish the attendees’ spirits as we shared our collective knowledge of the origins, uses, and qualities of over 40 species that grace our town, making it at Tree City USA.
The tour was sponsored by the Methow Conservancy, and while Dwight and I were the leaders, many of the participants had in-depth knowledge of specimens found throughout town. The excitement from the group and added commentary from residents made for a delightful way to spend a rainy day; the event will likely become an annual affair.
Another well attended affair was the Humanities Washington talk “Islam 101” hosted by the Twisp Library on Thursday Oct. 13. David Fenner, a scholar of Islam with extensive life experience in the Middle East first as a Peace Corps Volunteer, then later an aid worker and director of a multi-cultural center in Oman, took the group on a brief tour of the history, customs, beliefs and perceptions of Islam.
The premise of his talk depicted the evolution from traditionalism to modernism in the context of the Islamic world using a copper coffee pot giving way to a Starbucks cup as a metaphor. Through the coffee pot metaphor, he reasoned that the communal customs of Islam, which engender its identity, can be in contrast to the individualism that typifies Western cultures; this contrast while embraced by some Muslim nations, is playing out in a variety of armed conflicts across the globe.
With nearly 1.6 billion Muslims on Earth, Fenner did a magnificent job of exposing the diversity within, and the commonalities that bind the faith. He ended his talk with a poetic verse from a Bedouin herdsman, “be quick to wonder, slow to judge, and keen to discover.”