In a typical summer, the swim season’s county championship meet would have just sealed the Killer Whales as the league champs once again, and kids would be coming and going from summer camps. Here in the valley, the various youth organizations that offer summer camps and programs were, like everyone, thrown into all-new territory with the coronavirus requiring adaptability and different responses and approaches to address safety guidelines.
While the vast majority of summer camps and programs were thwarted and canceled, Little Star Montessori School, Classroom in Bloom and Pipestone Music still hosted a variety of camps in an altered format. All the camps were outside, limited to small groups, and thankfully the weather cooperated, albeit this last week was a scorcher.
Pipestone Music Camp, which typically sees 30 or more children at the Methow Valley Community Center each summer, was faced with the dilemma of how to conduct the orchestra with social distancing and small groups. Pam Hunt, Pipestone’s devoted teacher, devised a plan that worked harmoniously. With grace and wisdom, she opted not to subject kids to more screen time with instruction online, but to host outdoor orchestra in small groups in the Twisp Commons where kids can be kids, outside.
Seventeen orchestra students participated in 90-minute rotations of less than five musicians. According to Pam, the camp was a welcome breath of normalcy for the kids who haven’t been able to play together for months. The camp culminated Friday in a rolling series of 15-minute small group performances avoiding mass gatherings, yet allowed kids the chance to show off their hard work, which was especially hard given the intense heat of last week!
To escape the heat, there are really only two options if you don’t have air conditioning, which is our condition. You head up high, find water, or both. Our family fled the heat to brave the mosquitos at Upper Crater Lake for an evening of mountain air. Like most backpacking trips, we had our share of follies, whining to start, one child wearing a down jacket into the lake, missing clothing, wet feet, and someone forgetting to pack the Top Ramen. But despite the 48 bites on my son’s back (yes, I counted), the fish were biting, the huckleberries were sweet, and mountain flowers abounded. Plus, we ended the morning with a snowball fight before descending, ending with smiles.
Therefore, the flower of the week is the pink wintergreen, Pyrola asarifolia. The alpine meadows are aglow with a carpet of usual suspects, much to be admired right now, but this gem of a flower finds its splendor in the shade of the forest, tucked amidst downed logs and decaying leaves.
The delicate spike of pink and red umbrella-like blossoms pops off the forest flower and can be found in small patches or singularly. The 10- to 18-inch spike reaches upright from a rosette of basal leaves that stay green all year round. The inconspicuous foliage looks like a nondescript leafy herb, that one would reckon a weed in another context. But when the blossom pops, it transforms this little greenery from a humble forest dweller to an elegant and proud beauty. Look for this graceful, upright column of pinky prettiness along the trail among the huckleberry bushes and mountain rhododendrons.