By Joanna Bastian
My favorite view of the Methow Valley is in all directions.
Out the kitchen window, two gently sloping hillsides greet each other in a gentle embrace, their mantles changing color with each season: winter white, early spring green, blooming balsam yellow, and late summer’s sepia brown.
From the south-facing windows, the trees bud out a bright green, followed by delicate white blossoms, and finishing with the fiery colors of autumn.
My childhood was spent in a neighborhood of identical tiny boxes, where each house was built to the same plan. The view from the living room was the house across the street, a mirror image of our own. The view out the kitchen window was the backyard neighbor, their windows aligned perfectly with ours.
It was a predictable neighborhood. The newspaper landed with a thump on the front stoop every morning at 6:05 a.m. The mailman strode across the lawn at 1:20 p.m. Lawn mowers and sprinklers all ran on schedule.
What I love the most about the Methow is that it is unpredictable. Homes are all different and the scenery changes from mile to mile. Sometimes the scenery changes even minute-by-minute. Creeks swell with rain and snow melt, new channels form, and roadways become disrupted by mudslides.
With the Loup closed, now is a fine time to enjoy the changing views of the lower valley. The orchards are in full bloom. The view won’t last long, just a few weeks, so savor the blooms while they last. Even the Carlton General Store is sporting a clean new look.
With all this ruminating about change, there is something to be said about continuity. I recently spent some time in Peru, walking 40 miles along the Salkantay trail from the village of Mollepata to Machu Picchu. The trail has been in use for thousands of years by people walking in between villages beneath the slopes of Mount Salkantay. Many people passed us by on the trail, their donkeys and horses in obedient lines, necks and saddles festooned in color. The handsome profiles of the riders matched the ancient drawings of the Incas I had seen in textbooks.
I’m humbled when I meet people who are surrounded by constant reminders of their own great history and knowledge. Being a nation of immigrants, we don’t know the soil we live on as intimately as those who have lost count of the generations born from that earth.
Along the trail, medicinal plant gardens were everywhere, and the locals were well-schooled on the use of botanical treatments for every possible ache and discomfort. Inca walls formed the foundations of relatively newer buildings. At Machu Picchu there were multiple sites where a compass laid upon a stone revealed perfectly aligned corners pointing north, south, east and west. Shallow bowls filled with water acted as mirrors to view the stars in the night sky, and the path of the sun in the day.
Celebrating continuity in our own valley, the Methow Monument — commemorating the original Methow people and their descendants who continue to live in the Methow Valley today — is nearing completion. The dedication is scheduled at noon on Saturday, May 27, at the site in the Pateros Memorial Park. Methow descendant Randy Lewis will direct the ceremonies, and artists Smoker Marchand and Bobbi Hall will speak about their artwork at the site.