Pack up the car, pack up the kids, pack up the sunscreen, broad-brimmed hats, sunglasses and water bottles and sally forth to where the Methow River meets the mighty Columbia.
Saturday, June 22, is the sixth annual Salmon Bake and Cultural Celebration at the Methow Monument in Pateros Memorial Park. Festivities start at noon. Randy Lewis will serve up traditional flame-grilled Copper River salmon. Lunch includes salads and SweetRiver Bakery rolls, for a suggested donation of $10. Cultural demonstrations in the park will include basket weaving, beading, canoes, music and more. There will be a silent auction and raffle with all proceeds from the event to benefit programs offered by Pateros-Brewster Community Resource Center. The Salmon Bake and Cultural Celebration promises to be a fun event to celebrate our Native American neighbors and support community programs.
Summer solstice is right around the corner. I have mixed feelings about the longest day of the year, the changing of the seasons. On one hand, the summer solstice is the one day of the year with the most hours of sunlight – a positive, solar-charged, illuminating event. However, it is the longest day of the year – and the word “longest” has never impressed me. World’s longest limo, world’s longest hot dog, world’s longest tapeworm … these translate as “impossible turning radius,” “indigestion,” and “gross.” The word “longest” is laden with a long list of negative connotations. At the end of a tortuous mind-numbing work or travel day, no one says, “That was the longest day,” with any modicum of enthusiasm. I’ll have to travel to the southern hemisphere to celebrate the winter solstice, I suppose.
A tragic thing that more than one person has said to me is, “I don’t believe in the solstice.” Instead of patiently explaining how a spherical Earth rotates around the sun, I usually just reply, “Don’t say that out loud, it makes you look stupid.” Here we live in the age of information and Google and someone doesn’t believe in a physical event they can view with their own eyes. I hope they are enjoying their foot-long hotdog on the longest day of the year.
I must admit that any wondrous reminder that we are the smallest part of large universe fills me with joy. Our tiny green-and-blue rock is situated in the most perfect position of all the planets to receive just enough light and warmth to foster life, but not to toast our existence into burnt bits.
Speaking of burnt toast, sometime between June and July is the 66-million-year anniversary of when an asteroid toasted the dinosaurs. Based on analysis of pollen in fossils found at the impact site, scientists know that the asteroid impact occurred between the flowering of lotus and water lilies.
Perhaps on this very day, 66 million years ago, a 6-mile wide asteroid named Baptistina hurtled towards Earth at 20,000 miles an hour and barreled into the surface. The impact liquified rock, which turned into steam. The resulting plume exploded into space, and then cooled and re-condensed into tiny droplets of glass. The hell balls spread out through the atmosphere and creating the greatest meteor shower no one has ever seen, except for the dinosaurs in a few hot moments. You can see these glass balls, aka pseudomorphed tektites, embedded in a patch of mudstone from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming. All the details can be heard in “Dinopocalypse Redux,” a RadioLab podcast found here: www.wnycstudios.org/story/dinopocalypse-redux.
Happy Asteroid Anniversary season, and Happy Solstice!