Socializing is good for your mind and body, so researchers have concluded. In fact, not only does socialization help lighten your mood and reduce loneliness, but there is evidence that connecting with people boosts brain health, lowers the risk of dementia, and promotes a stronger immune system.
During the dark days and nights of winter, it is especially important to make the effort to socialize. It’s very easy to hole up at home, binge watch mindless TV, and let the world go by. Cabin fever can set in. “Cabin fever” is not a specific diagnosis, but a constellation of symptoms that can occur when it is difficult to leave the house due to bad weather (or illness or pandemic). Lethargy and decreased motivation are among the symptoms. There are several antidotes for cabin fever, not the least of which is socializing.
Here in Mazama, neighbors are an integral part of social interaction. Sharing a meal and meaningful conversation, playing a board game, or meeting up at the local gathering places are all important for well-being. Active athletes have no fear of the elements and head out with friends to ski, snowshoe or walk their dogs. Fortunately, even in icy conditions, one can don ice cleats and feel safe to take a walk.
The Mazama Public House has achieved its mission of providing a place for locals and visitors to gather and commune. One key to success has been the evenings of live music. A classical guitarist himself, Steven Kish books the musicians for the pub. He and his wife, Deneen, who is business manager for Old Schoolhouse Brewery, arrived in the Methow by foot from Mexico via the Pacific Crest Trail. That’s a 2,600-mile journey to get here!
Recently, the Public House was filled with patrons who either just happened upon the entertainment by chance or specifically came to listen to Karen & Gil, a musical duo from Okanogan with a story of their own. Karen, an Okanogan County girl spending time in France, and Gil, a Parisian born in Egypt, met at a concert in France.
Both talented musicians, they were attracted to each other’s compositions and their common admiration for the Beatles and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. They developed a style of harmony and guitar playing (both electric and acoustic) that flows from country to blues to rock to jazz and from English to French. It was an upbeat evening of beautiful music to combat the winter doldrums in a social setting.
Of course, the staple gathering place in Mazama is the Mazama Store. When the indoor eating area was scrapped due to COVID in 2020, there was a sense of loss to the community. Sharing tables in the small space, while having lunch or a beverage, was a guaranteed way to meet people for fun conversation. The courtyard space became the alternative gathering place, but the recent return of the indoor space is a welcome sight.
On Saturday (Jan. 28), three Lost River friends, Gretchen, Pam and Patrick, celebrated Pam’s birthday by each accomplishing a separate “mission.” Pam completed a skate ski marathon on the Methow Community Trail. Patrick skied 21 miles on classic skis while Gretchen made her way from Lost River to the Mazama Store via foot, snowshoes, and skis (and back!). All three met to enjoy rewarding refreshments around the indoor table at the Mazama Store. Fresh air, exercise, friends, and good food are integral pieces to winter well-being.
Follow-up: Louise Stevens told me of the sad demise of the snowman she and her friend built near Brown’s Farm trailhead. A week after Mr. Snowman’s picture was in this paper, someone stole his hat, scarf and even his buttons! Come on, people, really?