4 min read

Midwinter Postcard 2024

Two black and white photos, on left, a fence post, branch and orchard in winter; on right, an ice-covered small tree
Tieton Winter Snow (Sandra Dean)

Dear Esteemed Readers,

It’s midwinter in the small, agricultural, rural, “renaissance town” of Tieton, Washington, just east of the Cascade Mountains. It’s cold. It’s dark. And it’s that time of year, between January 1 and “Spring,” when the weeks and months just past the New Year always seem the longest:

A cartoon by Roz Chast show people surrounding a graphic calendar year like a pie chart, with the pieces getting smaller as the year progresses.

This winter, it seems like everyone but me has temporarily departed (or will be departing) for warmer climates: Portugal. Mexico. Hawaii. Spain. Vietnam. Thailand. And southern Japan. So how do I get through the darkest days “back home?”

It’s a good time to read books and write. It’s a good time to study my Spanish.  It’s a good time to plan art and home organization projects. And it’s a good time to don my sturdy winter boots and document the beauty of nearby snowy hills, orchards, and canyons with black and white photos. 

A black and white photo of a creek in winter, with snow on the banks and on rocks
Cowiche Creek in Cowiche Canyon (Sandra Dean)

Since I am a “Mediterranean type” at heart who feels more comfortable sitting at a sunny outdoor cafe in a faraway country, during my studio work breaks I often seek out an occasional public “Local Color” activity here in Tieton that can warm my soul, make me smile, and help ameliorate my winter “left behind” status.

Join me now for a brief tour of the newest Local Color updates and additions to the quirky culture in this tiny town:

Multi-color text saying "Local Color 2024"

Wallflower Social

Tucked into a low storefront on the west side of our tidy town square is Wallflower Social, a new café and oasis of hospitality that offers espresso drinks, pastries, sandwiches, and a variety of creative and elegant “toasts” to encourage solitary “workaholics” to leave the studio, office, or workshop behind and exercise a few social skills. It’s the closest I can come to the Mediterranean!

Two couples looking downcast standing outside a cafe
Glum and antisocial Tieton wallflowers Andres & Rosa Gonzalez, Sandra Dean, David Bilides
Two upbeat couples sitting at a small table inside a cafe.
Inside Wallflower Social, after coffee and a treat, we are transformed: "Wallflowers no more!"

Tieton’s beloved Boxx gallery hosts exhibits and art classes year-round for residents and visitors alike. A few years ago, a special Valentine's Day Community exhibit at the Boxx was such a huge hit that we decided to expand its presence even more this year. If the spirit moves you, there are even free art supplies for creating your own valentine. Enjoy the Love Fest!

Two rows of 4 heart collages
Heart collages, by Laurie Kanyer
A photo of red tulips in the snow
Tulips, by Arturo Solorio
A collection of small ceramic colored valentine plaques
Ceramic plaques, by Michelle Wyse
A table with brightly colored materials for making valentines
Valentines art-making supplies for Boxx visitors

Tieton Cabin Company

In a previous post from May 6, 2023, I introduced readers to the extraordinary work of the Tieton Cabin Company, the brainchild of architects Jeb and Belinda Thornburg, who live in the Tieton Lofts just down the hall from me. Their spiffy clean and organized workshop (located in the NE corner of the Mighty Tieton Warehouse) is the manufacturing base for the company’s (achingly lovely and serene) modern “cabins.”

Photo of a small cabin lit internally on a winter evening.

Recently, the Tieton Cabin company celebrated the completion of their first show model, and in the short and celebratory video below, they document the cabin’s installation right in the center of Tieton, preceded by an informal parade of local support team professionals and “artiste” luminaries. It was a Big Deal. Glad those gigantic chains were hefty enough for a safe “lift off!” Congratulations Jeb and Belinda!

Delivery Day! — Cabin 1 Liftoff

Nomad Kitchen and Mercantile

Three long tables of diners in front, with a hanging canoe over the cooks' counter at the back of a large room.
A typical festive evening in the Nomad Kitchen dining room (Sandra Dean)

After a hard day of cafe and gallery hopping, followed by an inspirational film break, there is no better place to end up in the late afternoon or early evening than our local, gourmet, bistro and gift gallery: Nomad Kitchen and Mercantile.

Sample of foods from Nomad kitchen: cocktails, seafood platter, tiramisu
Nomad Kitchen cuisine sampler

When chef Craig Singer and staff return from their far-flung, (warmer climate) winter breaks around the world, Nomad Kitchen will celebrate with a special Valentine’s Day dinner to top off a year of extraordinary creative cooking.

Make a reservation to join the fun! Maybe I’ll see you there!

El Nido Cabins

Photos of the kitchen and bedroom area of one of the El Nido cabins.
An El Nido cabin Interior

Out-of-towners can stay over at El Nido Cabins. Hosts Nick and Ann Fenton welcome you to their renovated 1940’s era cabins adjacent to four, quiet, tree-covered acres with a year-round creek and pond nearby. One of the cabins is sure to provide you with the perfect Tieton home base. Longer winter retreat stays are available for a discounted price. Alert: outdoor sauna available!

A pond with trees behind it and Cleman Mountain in the distance
Snow on Cleman Mountain north of pond at El Nido (Sandra Dean)

With all best Wishes,

Sandra first name signature

Sandra Dean, Visual Artist
Tieton, Washington USA