I feel as if I’m in Austria, but it’s the Methow Valley in the foothills of Washington’s  North Cascade mountain range. On Wednesday I flew into Seattle and then drove east for five hours–through the city, along rivers, over a pearly sea-green lake, through the snow-piled northern pass that had only opened the day before, and into the cowboy town of Winthrop. Add to that the company of the poet Ross Gay, and I would have flown all the way out here just for the drive. But there’s more–we’re on day four of readings and writings and hikes, and when it’s time to eat, food is passed family style. Last night wagons pulled by Clydesdales took us into the woods to the old homestead where a cowboy sang “Ring of Fire” and we toasted the biggest marshmallows I’ve ever seen and smashed them into smores. It’s Writing by Writers’ second annual Methow Valley conference. In addition to Pam and Ross, Lidia Yuknavitch is also teaching. Her reading Thursday night sent a line of people to my spot in the corner where I sold copy after copy of The Book of Joan. Now I’m off to write…  xo ~cyn