Illustrations by Jon Williams
Black History Month | Plant Your Family Tree
The origins of Black History Month date back to 1915 when Carter G. Woodson founded an organization known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The group sponsored a week set aside in February, which coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It wasn’t until 1976 that President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month as an opportunity to remember the accomplishments of Black Americans whose culture have made our country stronger and better. Without the strength of will and character of Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, and so many others, where would we be? That’s hard to think about. Let’s salute the leaders of movements, the scientists, politicians, educators, athletes, doctors, lawyers, etc., but let’s also celebrate the contributions of all Black people in this country who have risen up to become a powerful force in this nation despite the odds of an often unfair and racist system. This month, think about how we can keep changing for the better.
Feb. 1: African American Roots Family Starter Kit, City of Tacoma Library branches; free;
According to the Tacoma Public Library, “The best way to get started with discovering your family’s history is writing down what you already know.” Then pick up and free program kit at any branch and begin your ascent up the family tree. All supplies are provided by the library for free. If you need help, sign up for a free session on Feb. 23 with a genealogy researcher.
Presidents’ Day Weekend | Williams Henry Who?
What do George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and William Henry Harrison have in common? Turns out that they were all U.S. presidents. They were all born in February. And, they’re all dead. Somewhere in there is a reason to celebrate. So while you’re celebrating the national holiday on Feb. 21. keep those four guys in your thoughts. Just remember that none of them actually has a birthday on Feb. 21. George Washington is the closest to our holiday this year, as his mum pushed him out on Feb. 22, 1732. His birthday became a perennial day of remembrance in 1800, a year after his death; roughly 80 years later, his birthday was declared a federal holiday. Washington was the first individual American to have his own holiday. It wasn’t until 1983, when Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was signed into law that another American got that honor. In the 1960s Presidents’ Day shifted to a uniform Monday and we threw in Abraham Lincoln’s Feb. 12 birthday as a consolation prize — which caused the apostrophe to migrate to the right, from “President’s” to “Presidents’.” For those interested in stepping out to celebrate the holiday, we’ve cobbled a small list of Presidents’ Day weekend happenings around the state. For those who wish to remain indoors for a quiet, introspective weekend, you can keep in the spirit by researching who William Henry Harrison was. Or, ask yourself this question: “Why is there not a single national holiday that celebrates an individual woman?”
Another Witch Hunt
Feb. 20: PNW Withches’ Market; 1 to 5 p.m.; 715 8th St, Kirkland, WA.; free; info: https://www.facebook.com/PNWWitchesMarket/
What’s Presidents’ Day weekend without a witch hunt? They were real popular in Massachusetts in the 17th century and had been all but forgotten until our 45th president brought them back into vogue. Now you can’t pick up a paper or look at a news website without coming across the term in quotes from the former POTUS. But the truth is, as Roald Dahl once said, “A witch never gets caught. Don’t forget that she has magic in her fingers and devilry dancing in her blood.” So if you’re hunting for secret treasures and you need a witch to help you find them, head over to Kirkland on Sunday afternoon to the PNW Witches’ Market, where mystical merchants will help connect you with your desires, and you won’t have to hunt for any witches. Remember to try the hot covfefe. It’s brewed by infusing the covfefe through a constant negative press. But seriously, there will be artisans, psychic readings, body workers and more… And doesn’t that sounds like toil and trouble squared?
Sliding Into Home Plate
Feb. 19-20: Snowshoe Softball Tournament; times vary; Winthrop, WA; Info: https://winthropwashington.com/events/snowshoe-softball/
If you live in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, snowshoe baseball is a real thing that goes back generations. But the folks in northern Wisconsin strap on their snowshoes and play ball in the summer — in July! On sawdust! In Winthrop, Washington, the annual Snowshoe Softball tournament is held in the snow over Presidents’ Day weekend. Yes, February! There’s cold snow on the ground. It’s cold above the ground. It’s just cold. But, hey, it’s got to be a fun tradition, right? So take a trip over to the Methow Valley this weekend, get yourself a foot-long hot dog and listen to the crack of the bat — then the crack of the ice — and speaking of cracks, we hear the craic is good, too.
Feb. 21: TreeHouse Point Treehouse Tour; 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.; 6922 Preston-Fall City Rd SE, Issaquah, WA; $35; info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/treehouse-point-treehouse-tour-tickets-235571740417?aff=ebdssbdestsearch
If you go off searching for Abraham Lincoln’s famed birthplace log cabin, you may be disappointed to find the the cabin’s logs were dismantled and all that remains on the Kentucky site is a foundation. However, its reported that the original logs that made up Lincoln’s Kentucky birth site were gathered up and sent on tour around the country with another set of logs that made up Jefferson Davis’ birthplace. Accidentally, the logs got mixed together during transit. One might think of it as a metaphoric way to restore a polarized country — but to this day that log theory of unity hasn’t worked. Sadly, we’re still at loggerheads. So the logs were put into storage and eventually assembled in a marble building in Kentucky. That cabin’s legitimacy is questionable, as even Abe’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, considered the reassembled log cabin to be a fraud cabin. All this is to say that logs are much better when they keep their roots intact. Once they lose their verifiable history, they’re just a stack of kindling. So celebrate this day by taking a tour of cabins attached to real, live trees built by famed treehouse creator, Pete Nelson. Attendees of this tour will see five of the seven treehouses at the Point. Each has its own verifiable history.
WAIT THERE’S MORE
Feb. 4 and 5: Arlington Eagle Festival, Arlington; all day Info: https://www.arlingtonwa.gov/169/Festival-Activities or https://www.arlingtonwa.gov/eaglefest
Chinook, coho, chum, pink, or sockeye salmon? Steelhead trout, sea-run cutthroat or bull trout? There’s so much to choose from if you’re an eagle circling over the Stillaguamish River in winter looking for a meal. Eagles are amazing. The way the they know exactly when to return to Arlington is remarkable. They know instinctively whether the winter steelhead will hit on Hickman’s Fish Tacos or Bjorn Stinger Prawns; they know if the sea-run cutthroat are after the Saltwater Deer Hair Poppers this late in the year, too. Eagles are just amazing. And the folks in Arlington, where the two forks of the Stillaguamish coalesce, know that they have something special this time of year. Which is why they throw a big party for the returning eagles. The annual Arlington Eagle Festival kicks off Feb. 4 and 5 this year with an extreme chainsaw carving show, a Haiku contest, draft horse wagon rides, a petting zoo and an eagle photo contest.
— Words and illustrations by Jon Williams