For some reason, these days when people talk about their birthday they often cheerily characterize it as “another trip around the sun,” or something akin to that. I suppose that’s a bit more philosophical and contemplative than “I’m not a year older, I’m a day older,” which sounds defensive and dismissive. For me, the completion this week of one more twelvemonth is reason for reflection on, literally, the experiences of a lifetime — and to keep looking forward with the hope for more.
In fact, I’m sort of committed to one more circuit and then some. I signed on to direct a Readers’ Theater production of “Ravenscroft,” an English manor house murder mystery that is clever and hilarious, at The Merc Playhouse one year from this week in 2024. I’m already working on how to stage it and will be looking for a lively group of actors in about 11 months — stay tuned. The author’s notes call for five “alluring and dangerous” women in vital roles — and one man who has to contend with them. I’m not worried about finding a suitable cast in the Methow.
I expect, all those months from now, to count “Ravenscroft” as one of my gratitudes — the term I’ve come up with for all the good things that keep coming my way. I take a daily inventory to remind myself of the good happenings (they don’t have to be big) among the challenges. It’s a reaffirming exercise, and I recommend it.
I’m particularly aware that I’ve escaped three life-threatening health scares in pretty decent shape, and that doesn’t count surviving prostate cancer and skirting other near-disasters. All of which engenders a certain amount of perspective-checking.
So I’m grateful to be alive, active and well-situated on the planet when so many of my generation are not — taken by wars, accidents, disease, other catastrophic health issues, or crime (I know contemporaries who were victims of each). Those of us in our early to mid-70s don’t consider “old age” as causal. Although, after reading Solveig Torvik’s column in this week’s paper on the declining life expectancy of Americans, we may need to revisit that notion.
One of my major daily gratitudes is for the remarkable group of people I am privileged to work with at this little outpost of rural American journalism. They produce the words and images you read every week with energy, creativity and passion, and if there is a reason that the News has value in this community it’s because of them. OK, I do have something of a role in that, he said modestly, but mainly as a facilitator of their efforts.
Recognition for that work comes in a variety of forms, and one of them is through the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest, which rewards the best work of the weekly and small daily newspapers around the state. Our entries, in advertising, special publications, news, features, sports, photography, design and social media, are judged against the best work of hard-working, talented newspaper people throughout Washington.
You may have read recently that we received 47 awards in the 2023 Better Newspaper Contest, the most ever for the News. Every year, I wonder how we can outdo ourselves. The answer is simple: one week at a time, with our best efforts. My thanks go to our staff and freelance contributors for making is possible.
Related to that: A reminder that if you are interested in taking over the important space on the Valley Life page that is devoted to Twisp news and other ruminations, please let me know your intentions as soon as possible (see the house ad in last week’s paper, or this week’s, for details). We are looking forward to someone picking up the pace from Sarah Schrock and lending their own voice to the community dialog. And then you can say you are part of an award-winning newspaper!
Sarah’s final column appears on the Valley Life page this week. You’ll enjoy reading the recap of her Twisp columnist years, and learn more about what she will be doing in the future.