Saturday was a good day to be out and about in the Methow — places to go, things to do, cold but sunny, a cheery prelude to the Thanksgiving week coming up. People were skiing, skating, fat biking and otherwise taking advantage of the early snow compilation.
I started the day at the Methow Valley Community Center’s Christmas Bazaar, which was back in the gym after a COVID interruption. The place was packed by the time I got there, with more than 60 vendors displaying their wares and throngs of shoppers ambling down the aisles.
Moving through it all was slow going, which was just fine because that left plenty of time for admiring the goods for sale, for chatting with the sellers (many familiar figures from past years), and for the inevitable socializing that you would expect at such a popular community gathering.
I was sort of working, sort of conversing, sort of shopping, mostly just enjoying the atmosphere. I chatted with quite a few people, took more than a few photos, had some donuts, made mental notes of things to look for at the second bazaar of the season (on Dec. 3), and then ambled over to the Methow Valley Senior Center for the opening day of its Christmas Sale.
There, volunteers had stocked two rooms, the hallways and possibly other nooks and crannies with an incredible assortment of items, including trees and all the trimmings. On the way in, you could pick up a shopping basket — and they are literally baskets of the plastic laundry type — to fill with bargains.
Next stop was up Highway 20 for the grand opening of Bluebird Grain Farms’ new processing facility at the Twins Lakes Road intersection. Along the way, I passed the sign directing people to the Spinners and Weavers Guild show and sale on Old Twisp Highway. I wasn’t able to make it, but heard anecdotally that quite a few people did. Later in the day, The Confluence: Art in Twisp opened its holiday exhibits.
At Bluebird, visitors enjoyed snacks made with the various grain products the company has made widely famous. I encountered some folks who were on a similar trajectory, having seen them earlier at the Christmas Bazaar.
I eventually made it out to Mazama, where the store had reopened after its annual fall break. I was again sort of working, as I delivered the week’s newspapers that could not be dropped off while the store was closed earlier. The roles of “publisher” and “editor” encompass a lot of duties.
Settling in at the nearby cabin where I gratefully spend most weekends, and having had a good day to that point, I drifted into Thanksgiving mode — you know, recollecting all the things you have to be thankful for because that’s what we do this time of year. It’s a cliché, to be sure, but if I’ve learned anything the past few years, it’s that if you’re a paying attention life will smack you up alongside the head with a lot of perspective checks.
For me, that means reminding myself that a year ago I was just emerging back into public view from a month in the hospital and then another month at home getting outpatient treatments. I was still being mostly nourished by a feeding tube in my stomach, and had a big catheter anchored into my upper chest for infusions. Those things are now long gone and I am, according to my neurologist, stable (I didn’t inquire if he meant mentally as well as physically, but that’s for another sector of the medical profession to determine). And I am reminded, as I shovel snow around the cabin, that last November I could not have done that, or much else. Friends and family continue to be invaluable to the recovery process, especially after I lost my mother a couple of months ago.
It’s been a challenging year for the newspaper, as like everyone else we were are still recovering from COVID and adapting to a post-pandemic world. We’ve been short-staffed and unable to do all the things we would like, but are working hard to remedy that. It’s also been a rewarding year. We were recognized by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association “Better Newspaper Contest” for our work, and continued to put the best newspaper we could produce into our readers’ hands (or onto their computer screens).
So I am thankful for our devoted, creative, hard-working staff (and that includes all of the freelancers whose work graces these pages every week), for our advertisers’ support, and for our readers’ encouragement. And I’m grateful that amidst all the hard work and long hours it takes to get everything done here, there is still time to revel in a classic Methow Valley weekend.