Ah, the season of rapid change is upon us, and many observations of human behavior and natural phenomena are noteworthy.
One of blessings of living and eating seasonally in the Methow is the color changes in our diet that reflect the bounty of the home-grown garden. As colors in the landscape shift, so too does the color palette at a potluck. Recall mid-July. A backyard feast hosts an array of crisp greens and juicy red tomatoes. Dark blueberries and hot pink raspberries mingle with deep green kale. But by mid-October, the table is splattered with tones of warm oranges and rich yellows of squashes and creamy whites of potatoes and onions. It seems to occur almost overnight, my diet goes from green to gold, mirroring the ribbon of cottonwoods along the river.
This time of year also marks an observation I have come to see as a biannual human migration, observable perhaps only to those who live or work in town. As the largest service center in the valley, Twisp receives regular visits from valley residents completing errands. Some basic services can only be found here. But for the real recluses and hermits who opt to shop online and only make quick dashes for perishables, breaking the Patagonia Divide* only happens when absolutely necessary. This crossing occurs predictably twice per year for one specific errand in Twisp, and the time has arrived.
For the next three to four weeks, the divide will be breached, and seldom-seen faces will be walking around in downtown trying fill two to four hours of down time. Friends and acquaintances from Lost River to Methow will be wandering the streets of Twisp on foot, stopping into the bakery, perhaps popping into Confluence Gallery to see what’s on the walls, and maybe visiting the library or TwispWorks. Often around this time of year, I get a call or text, “hey, I am in town Thursday for a few hours, want to have coffee?”
This visitation is prompted by a predictable necessity: snow tire swap-out. Les Schwab is swamped with tire changes right now as people prepare for winter driving. With the race to beat the snow, with studs or not, comes a noteworthy portion of the valley to Twisp in a matter of weeks — and they need to find a few hours to kill as they wait. Some of the more prepared and ambitious tire-swappers bring their bikes and go for a ride. Some bring their work and find a quiet table at the library or bakery, but many amble around town aimlessly, wistfully open to new encounters and observations.
During these explorations, small talk in town will undoubtedly include questions and comments such as these: “When did the yoga studio move in? What’s the Coaches Lounge? Did you know the Daily Business has new owners? What happened to the River Bank mural? There’s a new yarn store where the Thai restaurant used to be. The Interpretive Center and native garden have really come along. Look what I found at the Senior Center!”
Welcome, tire-swappers. If you need some suggestions to kill time, here’s few: Find the riverfront trail in Twisp Park; walk to Blue Star Coffee Roasters and then to the airport for a 4-mile loop (peer over the bridge and look for salmon); visit the Twisp Salmon Recovery Ponds. Schedule a massage at the North Glover Healing Center or Twispa; view the Canyon Street Housing Trust homes; walk through TwispWorks and check out the new OSB brewery; stroll through the native garden and interpretive center; hit up the Senior Center Halloween Sale room; hike up behind the Community Center and see all the new homes being built; visit a small businesses and treat yourself to something you can’t buy online! We hope your visit will bring you a delightful autumn day of poking around town and discovering other wonderful reasons to come again (before studs have to be off on April 1).
(*Patagonia Divide refers to the imaginary line that separates the upper and lower valley, based on the popular performance brand of outdoor clothing worn more exclusively from Winthrop to Mazama. Also referred to as the spandex divide, in reference to cross-country ski attire more often seen up-valley.)