The other day, a local person I was talking to noted that when spring finally arrives in the Methow Valley and things start to get breathtakingly beautiful around here, people leave. Spring break for the school district (this week) has a lot to do with that, as does cabin fever (see Erika Kar’s column from Mazama on the Valley Life page for an insightful take on that phenomenon). Since all the other columnists have offered their spring observations, I figured I’d add my take. Also, I’m fresh out of other ideas.
As usual, quite a few businesses take time off in early spring after a challenging winter. Some lodging places are temporarily shuttered, as well as a scattering of retail outlets. I noticed a few “closed until …” signs last weekend as I was delivering copies of our Methow Home magazine to Winthrop and the upper valley. It may be a temporary inconvenience for some, but those folks deserve some down time. Summer will likely be busy again, and there is some value in savoring the few days that we have the valley to ourselves.
The lack of traffic in Winthrop, and availability of parking space, are “shoulder season” indicators as well. When I was still commuting to Twisp from up the West Chewuch, it was always a relief to have a pavement clear of ice and snow, and to encounter fewer other motorists, on the 15-mile journey. Now that I live in Twisp, with less than a mile between home and work, I worry less about those things. But I miss the scenic opportunities in both directions.
The “guess when the pass will open” calendar is up at the Mazama Store, with a lot of dates already taken. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) crews are at it on the North Cascades Highway, and we’re all watching their progress. The WSDOT guys have a new safety mascot this year replacing Pink Floyd the plastic flamingo: an adorably cute (toy) animal named Mazama the Avalanche Rescue Goat, who is appropriately outfitted with rescue gear. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
The small house I now live in has been surrounded by snowbanks since I moved in, so I had no idea what the yard looks like. It’s now beginning to reveal itself, as is the porch deck — which is larger than I expected. That’s what amounts to an exploration opportunity on my little patch of real estate. Not sure what all I’ll encounter out there.
As the resident sports writer for the newspaper, spring means a halting start to coverage until all the fields are clear for our Liberty Bell athletes to at least practice, let alone compete at home. Mountain Lion teams spend a lot of time on the road early in the season, although the softball and baseball fields were cleared and groomed in time for late March play. Winter rec is all but finished by the time spring officially arrives.
Five years of fire seasons have put us on high alert for any calls to Okanogan County Fire District 6, and they pick up with the arrival of warmer weather. We stop what we’re doing and listen to the scanner in our office whenever the firefighters are “toned out.” Unfortunately, we’re now also in the season of “stupid human tricks” with fire. I’ll never understand the attitude of carelessness that some people maintain, especially after all we’ve endured. (Of note: the U.S. Forest Service is starting some its controlled burns around the valley.)
Oh, an April Fool’s Day follow-up: No, Twisp and Winthrop did not merge. And that nefarious Canadian mining company is not seeking heavy equipment operators for a massive mining operation in the Mazama area. But that one did raise a few hackles.