By Sarah Schrock
A pleasant stroll down Twisp’s riverfront trail that opened last fall has some new, attractive waysides. Handcrafted artisan benches made by local artists Barry Stromberger and Bruce Morrison have recently been installed as amenities on the trail. The benches are radically different in material, style and design — creating a contrasting, yet complimentary, art walk along the trail. Adding a local flair and establishing a sense of place to this sacred land, they are emblematic of the many people it takes to make public spaces work.
The trail system and park sit atop a well-known encampment of the Methow People. The Two Rivers Bench commemorates the first reconciliation Pow Wow in 2003, bearing the same name, that was held at the park. The land downriver of the park where the trail extends was the campsite for that first Pow Wow, which later took on the name of “Heart of the Methow.”
The Pow Wow marked a turning point between the relationship of today’s land occupants and the former inhabitants of the land whose presence on this site is well documented. Just upstream was a Native American fish weir, and many historical photos document the presence and uses of the encampment.
I had a nice chat with Bruce Morrison, sculptor of the Two Rivers Bench, in the shade of the only tree near the wayside stop. It was no accident he placed the bench there — it’s the only shade along the trail in the afternoon. As you sit in the hand-sculpted ferro-cement bench, you are cradled by extending arms that give reference to presence of past inhabitants of the land. Your eyes travel upwards to gaze upon Nsesk’chin, or broken bluff, the Methow’s name for the prominent hill across the river many refer to as “Mill Hill” or “Cross Hill.” Facing images of two salmon on the back rest represent the Methow and Twisp rivers that join forces there.
Bruce enlisted volunteer help from some able-bodied local teenagers, Lazo Gitchos and Leo Shaw, who put in some sweat equity to help erect the bench. Eric Carlton also lent a helping back a couple of times.
I didn’t get a chance to talk with Barry about his steel seat. You’ll have to go down and take a look for yourself at the playful textures and shapes in the amorphous steel platform that marks the entrance of the trail. It reminded me of the bubbling river.
They say it takes a village, and the building of this public trail took years of planning and negotiating. Land for the trail was generously donated, first by Tina Heath and then subsequently by owners Bill and Dianna Hottell. Without the generosity and vision of these landowners, the determination of former Town Council member Traci Day, and persistence by the mayor and previous park commissioners, the trail would likely never have been a reality. Bruce’s and Barry’s donated benches were part of the matching grant contributions to make it a reality.
On a different note, congratulations to this year’s Methow Valley Killer Whales Chase Award recipient Nick Fitzmaurice, a senior swim team member. The Chase Award is given each year to a swimmer who demonstrates courage, determination and commitment to the team. The award commemorates the memory of Chase Brandenburg, whose legacy of drive and love of the team lives on each year.
The swim team wrapped up the season as league champs by winning the four-way meet in Brewster on Saturday.
The pool will be extending its previously shortened season to Labor Day thanks to a generous gift from a local donor. Make sure to stay cool at the pool during the dog days.