What is a place without a name? One might argue that without a name, a space isn’t a place, just a continuance of one space to the next. If we think of space and place as interchangeable concepts, a remarkable phenomenon occurs. In astrophysics, time and space are linked whereby one cannot exist without the other. One cannot be in a place (space) without a time signature. Similarly, time is always marked by a place (position in space).
For instance, when you try to meet up with someone it always entails a time and place. “Let’s meet tomorrow at 10 a.m.” This statement cannot be complete without a confirmation of place … “Let’s meet at the bakery.” Similarly, “Let’s meet at the bakery, at 10 a.m.” Time and place are connected.
Incidentally, Cinnamon Twisp Bakery is celebrating 25 years of business this season. Make sure to stop in and play their trivia game, you’ll learn a little local history — like, there were four original owners. Do you know who? I bet many of you don’t know who those original bakers were, but they still live among us. The bakery has been such a prominent fixture in the community that it arguably has made this place a destination.
Places without names can be described with an imposed geometric coordinate system which we increasingly rely on with smart phones and maps. While maps are no new way of navigating an unknown land, place names are still the most common way we describe familiar spaces. Prominent features in the landscape were our first landmarks and traditional cultures the world over had names for kinds of cliffs, knobs, river bends and the like. Place names can create unique colloquialisms of a culture. However, with changing inhabitants of a place, place names change, creating some confusion, reflecting a changing relationship with the land and place.
The prominent knob that overlooks Twisp is known by many different names — Mill Hill, Cross Hill, Broken Bluff. Mt. McClure’s exposed east face is known as the Gash or Rocky Ridge. Shaw Lake, Frost Lake or Big Buck Lake can be found up Frost Road. These places have many names, reflecting the time of consequence of the place.
Contrary to the above dilemma, sometimes a name takes on many places, creating even more confusion. Alder Creek is perhaps the most confusing of all places in the Twisp area, yet the name extends to a vast region of ambiguous spaces. First of all, Alder Creek is a drainage with many headwater drainages that have no outlet. Instead it empties into a series of ponds and seeps in a complex hydrology that has been further altered from mining and development of the past century. Alder Creek is also a road that loops from Lookout Mountain Road to the Twisp-Carlton Road. Alder Creek is also a mine. So, when people say Alder Creek, we need clarifications.
For the next few weeks, I intend to explore some places, their lost names, hidden names and place names and explore what’s happening in that place at this time. Please send me your favorite place names and anecdotal tales of lore.