Kumm Road up Mazama way is a neighborhood like many others in the Methow Valley — a place where everyone knows your name. In life BC (before coronavirus), neighbors got together to visit about the day, the family, the next event, or just to chill in good company. Then came Stay Home. Mic drop. That’s all, folks!
Not so fast. Early in the shutdown, Kumm Road property owner Denny Westin texted his neighbors Dalton and Linda DuLac, informing them that he was currently enjoying a martini. “You?” he asked. Linda regretfully realized she hadn’t had a cocktail in weeks. When Denny got wind of this fact, he creatively and lightheartedly came up with an isolation cocktail idea.
“The next day,” Linda said, “he showed up in hazard gear with a very tasty gin martini with his own homemade baby pickle.”
Reciprocity being key in our rural neighborhoods, Linda texted Denny that she would bring him and his wife Heidi a cocktail the next week. Thus was born a weekly cocktail hour with social distancing and protective gear of utmost concern. The couples have had fun preparing old classic drinks and trying new ones. The opportunity to catch up with friends, even though at a distance, has been priceless. Sometimes they even dress up in a get-up that reflects the era of the cocktail-du-jour.
These Happy Hours have been even more meaningful as the neighborhood has experienced sadness beyond the calamity of the virus.
Heidi Westin went for a routine eye exam in Omak on Jan. 25. What a shock when the eye doctor exclaimed that she must immediately get herself to an ophthalmologist in Wenatchee to schedule surgery. What?
She learned in Wenatchee that surgery was not going to help with the retinal detachment the optometrist had discovered. The specialist reported, “You have a tumor in your eye.” As of that day, Heidi’s life turned upside down. What has followed for Heidi, with Denny at her side, has been a series of doctor appointments, multiple tests, painful surgeries, radiation treatment, setbacks, all with an indomitable sense of humor. Heidi quipped, “It’s all fun and games until someone pokes an eye out.”
Then a pain worse than all pain — a broken heart — befell Heidi on May 8. Her beloved little horse Trusty suffered a stroke two days after he turned 25 years old. Trusty was well known in the valley. He was the “little man” who could: bring joy to the elderly, the disabled, the mentally challenged; march in parades; attend parties — even wear a party hat. His passing was an enormous loss to Heidi and the neighborhood.
In times of trouble, friends are a great comfort. The Kumm Road neighborhood is healing together. Heidi leaves all with the message of the importance of regular eye exams. One never knows what lies ahead.
A longtime friend of mine in Nevada emailed recently. She’s always been one with a great sense of humor and started with “I’m over it by now.” Aren’t we all? She followed up after describing the situation of each of her three sons: “I want them getting back on the freeway and fighting traffic like we used to. It’s the American way, commute traffic.”
With the North Cascades Highway opening “quietly” on May 12, we observed and heard a steady stream of campers and trailers coming down and an equally steady stream of logging trucks going up.