For Seattle Weekly.
Governor Jay Inslee’s recent declaration of a statewide drought emergency may have left some Seattle residents perplexed. The evergreens are still lush, the views of Rainier are still so often obscured by cloud, and the winter rains came down in their usual bouts. Emergency seems like a strong word to describe a phenomenon that most of us have hardly noticed. But the drought is no surprise to Charlie de la Chappelle, a Yakima Valley apple grower who, as a junior water rights holder, has kept a wary eye on his water sources for his entire farming career.
“If you’re a junior irrigator like me, it’s on your mind the whole time,” Chappelle says. “In the wintertime we’re always hoping it snows, and when it rains instead of snows, you start to worry.”
Rain versus snow: different reservoirs, different sources
Chappelle’s concerns arise from the fact that, when it comes to Washington’s water sources, not all reservoirs are equal. When those of us in Seattle turn on the taps what comes out is stored rainwater—and meteorologists report that Washington did get close to its normal share of rain this year. But the past year was an unusually warm one, which means that precipitation at higher elevations in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains also came down as rain, instead of the usual snow. Because much of eastern Washington relies on mountain snowpack to feed their water reservoirs, lack of snowfall means problems for Yakima Valley farmers like Chappelle. This year, snowpack is now at just 16 percent of normal.
“As that snowpack melts, that’s what gradually feed the reservoirs and rivers—that’s how we keep a nice, continuing irrigation through the season,” Stephanie Chance, of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association, explains. The gradual melt-off is necessary because the capacity of these reservoirs is limited to only about half a year’s worth of water. Chance continues, “Because a lot of the snowpack is already melted, there isn’t anything else to melt off into the reservoirs and rivers this year.” Which means: throughout the summer, the rivers could run increasingly dry.
For Seattle Weekly.
Sasquatch: mythical beast, elusive recluse, or something in between? The questions linger as fascination with the thought of wild humanoids living out their secretive lives just beyond our reach refuses to die—but even after all these decades of campfire debate across the globe, the question of Bigfoot’s existence is often left at that: all speculation, no rigor.
David George Gordon, Seattle-based author of the newly released Sasquatch Seeker’s Field Manual, thinks it’s high time we change the conversation. Doesn’t an idea so deliciously outlandish deserve equally exceptional examination? This is the question that Gordon brings to the table with his new book, which aims to arm the Bigfoot-curious with the power of citizen science.
There is no one better to lead the Sasquatch-seeking brigade. The author of 20 books about nature and the environment, Gordon has become somewhat of a specialist on topics that attract ideological intrigue, wavering doubt, and steadfast skepticism. His most popular book to date is The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook, with recipes to help you include things like spiders and crickets in your diet. While, understandably, your first reaction might be no way, Gordon, who sports a white beard and round spectacles, presents his quirky fixations with such a wholesome curiosity that they become irresistible. It can be hard to tell how seriously he takes any of it; his arguments are largely sensible, but all delivered with a playful gleam in the eye.
Does Gordon himself believe in Sasquatch? “I actually say I’m a fence-sitter. I’m not going to say there isn’t a Sasquatch—because people could find one tomorrow, and I’d be wrong,” he tells me. “But the bottom line is I wouldn’t go to court with any of the evidence people have gathered so far.”