This story was a collaborative effort by the Valley Life columnists.
So much happened in Winthrop this week! In fact, the sheer number of happenings was so overwhelming that my brain nearly shut down, but once I spent a few minutes with my face stuck through the hole in the cowboy-cowgirl plywood cutout mural in front of Old Schoolhouse Brewery I revived enough to recall at least some of the events. When I felt my mental acuity faltering, I just took another selfie with the wooden gunslinger sculpture in front of the town office, and that restored my Wild West equilibrium.
To begin with, people in cowboy hats and people not in cowboy hats rode into town on horses or in blue Subarus. While thousands of ice cream cones were scooped, rain dampened — even deluged — the streets, but not the spirits of the throngs of visitors who flocked to town.
There was allegedly somewhere between an inch and a foot of rainwater standing on Riverside Avenue at one point, but it quickly drained away. A good portion of it drained to the parking areas behind businesses overlooking the river, creating mud puddles, the likes of which have not been seen in years. Mud puddle season, although brief, seemed so novel to Brix Wine Bar owner Melanie Whittaker that she actually took a picture of one of the puddles. The photo was, I have to admit, a beauty, as far as mud puddles go; it will no doubt be included if the Winthrop Gallery ever curates its Mud Puddles of the Methow Valley calendar.
The rain did not, however, seem to put any additional pep into anyone’s step as they crossed the streets at the four-way stop. If anything, the precipitation seemed to foster dawdling, dallying and lollygagging within the confines of the crosswalks. Driving my blue Subaru, it took me a full hour to get through the intersection. To fill the time (I would never “kill” time — I’ve read “The Phantom Tollbooth,” and so should you), I played a rousing game of I-spy. I spied so many culottes — which is not spelled the way it sounds. “Cool Lots” are the shin-length breeches meant to cool a lot, but like anything else that society deems needs fancied-up, gets a French spelling, with surprising vowel placement and two Ts.
When I finally got through the four-way stop, it had taken so long that I forgot where I had been going in the first place, so I continued west and hiked up to Cutthroat Pass. I ran the descent, as I did not want to be late to the second biennial Valley Life columnists’ soiree. As I ran, I caught the toe of my shoe on rocks a few times, stumbling briefly before regaining my balance. But I was stable enough that I never crashed completely. I was lucky; I didn’t fall.
As it frequently does, unbidden, my mind conjured up a metaphor from these near-miss trips. I thought of friends and fellow community members, running down the path of life, occasionally tripping on small obstacles. For those with stability, a few staggering steps here and there are insignificant — balance is regained quickly. But many around us are in precarious positions right now — financially, socially, emotionally — and a mere stumble can quickly lead to a devastating crash. So I guess the reminders for me are to watch my step, be ready to break the fall if someone near me stumbles, and never take stability for granted.