Winter in the Methow has a way of stitching together the community in a special way. When the snow falls, a fluidity occurs, where valley folks move and down the valley in new and familiar ways unique to winter activities. The pattern of people’s movement up and down the valley change as ski trails open and winter errands and holiday shopping in towns become more intentional. The Winthrop Rink has become an epicenter for many, including our family.
The Winthrop Rink hosts tournaments throughout the winter and if you are a Twisp resident who has no affiliation with the ice rink, the amount of activity that is going on up the road might elude you. This weekend, the rink hosted the Great Outdoor Classic U14 junior hockey tournament with 12 teams from across the state. If you noticed an inordinate amount of tweenagers gawking around, this is why. The U14 players hailed from the Puget Sound to Idaho and brought with them a welcome youthful energy to the valley.
Our Winthrop Wolverines placed sixth overall after some hard-fought battles with a final standing of one win, one tie and two losses. With only three weeks of practice under their belts, our team matched up against teams who have been on the ice since October, or in some cases year-round. We have one advantage however that sets up above the competition: our kids know how to skate in the snow, and sometimes rain.
The fresh air, rain and snow that fell on the rink this weekend were a novel experience for the teams who have the pampered luxury of conditioned ice in a controlled environment. Knowing how to scoop the puck and plow the snow with your stick and skate on the slick is a skill our local kids have had to master. Not only that, the fresh air and elements build a stamina and brawniness that toughens our players. The next tournament of our local players in Jan. 7-9 for the U10 kids. Come out to the rink and bring some cheer, it’s a fabulous way to show some local pride and support.
Beyond the rink just up the road, the snowfall managed to smother Mazama, building up a great base for the Nordic trails which will hopefully soon be open thanks to this week’s forecast. Further up the highway, the Silver Star Sno-Park (is that what it’s called now?), is already seeing heavy use as snowmobilers, skiers and Christmas tree hunters take to their sleds for adventure.
Another way the wintertime brings people together in new places are the shops and services here in Twisp. The Loup Loup Ski Shop sees faces from Mazama and Winthrop as they gear up for the downhill and Les Schwab is always busy with our upper valley friends. If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “I thought of you as I was in Twisp all morning getting my tires changed,” I’d be almost as rich as Les Schwab (almost). Glover Street Market’s holiday gastro delights and the Methow Valley Goods Store attract locals from near and far.
While Twisp is often the epicenter for holiday bazaars and the beloved Cascadia Holiday Concert, drawing valley folks from north and south, those events are still on hold until the pandemic precautions ease up. This year’s concert will be held virtually on Monday (Dec. 20). Log in at www.cascadiamusic.org and listen on YouTube and drink your eggnog with close friends and family.