Where did you go, Erika Kar? I hear you are on a beach somewhere in Mexico watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean with a margarita in your hand and the warm sea breezes blowing through your hair. Ahh, the life. The icing on the cake: teaching Advanced English Lit to 13 very lucky students.
Life in the Methow Valley generally moves unhurriedly, but sounds like your new gig is another dimension with the ease of life and the warmth and kindness of the people you meet. I know you will miss those wintry days when a brand new snowfall cleans everything up, leaving the landscape covered with a sparkling fresh blanket. What I don’t think you will miss are four o’clock winter darkness, 5 feet of Lost River snow, cold that gets deep in your bones, and mud month. But, we will miss you.
When Erika came to our little ranchette in Mazama to interview me before writing a column about my memoir “Petting Tigers,” she told me she might be leaving to spend a year in Mexico. She asked if I had any interest in putting my name in the basket as a possible substitute columnist during her absence. A quick “No!” slipped out. But, as I went on with my life, which involves roaming around Mazama territory a lot, I kept seeing things and hearing things where I found myself saying, “That would make a good topic for the column!” Thus, I put my name in the basket and the editor approved. So, how did I get from there to here?
I wrote a poem called “Clouds” when I was 9, and it was published in The Grit. If you haven’t heard of that paper, you know it was a long time ago. My first byline was in seventh grade in the Lincoln Zephyr. By high school, I was feature editor for The Geyser, appropriately named as our high school was a stone’s throw from Yellowstone Park. The editor of the local newspaper, The Livingston Enterprise, offered me an after school job and the opportunity to write a weekly column about high school activities. After graduation, he personally escorted me to meet the editor of the Billings Gazette, as he believed I had a future in journalism. I so wanted that to be true, but that was not to be in the cards since I had been taught and believed that the end of the world was coming, so there was no need for a career in journalism. That’s another story.
For many years of my adult life, my only writing was in letters and journals until the day came when I realized the world wasn’t coming to an end, and I felt a need to chronicle my life journey. “Petting Tigers,” a 10-year labor of love, was born. My passion for using words to tell a story was revitalized.
Two years ago, my husband and I retired to the Methow Valley lifestyle after grueling work lives in education and law, respectively. We bought two gorgeous, lively quarter horses, built a barn, took out 130 pine trees, planted a pasture, and planned our life to head off into the sunset doing what we loved. I would never have imagined that an opportunity to be a journalist would ever come up again. But, here it is, and I’m very excited to share some Mazama stories with the varied audience who read this amazing newspaper.
Of course, I’d love to hear from the community. Here in Mazama, we have an eclectic crowd. We have locals. We have full-timers and part-timers. We have visitors. There are working folk, retired folk, looking for adventure folk and everyone has a story. Please share them with me.
I plan to post up weekly for an hour at one of three hubs (thankfully, not Walmart): Mazama Store, Woodstone Pizza and Jack’s Hut. Next week, I will give the first time and place. Come talk to me. If you have an Instagram account that posts Mazama people/events, please share the handle with me so I can see what’s going on (like Elizabeth Warren at the Mazama Store bakery!). Next up: trail etiquette.