Rural Skyline | Waterville, WA | 2017
Heading west, the first signs of town are the grain elevators. The lights on top ward off crop dusters but are also welcome beacons to weary travelers trying to beat a winter storm. Night falls at 4:30 pm, so lights blaze, too, at main street’s essentials — library, bank, grocery, post office. And at the tavern, of course. Inside, a few regulars listen to a cross-state trucker describe the abysmal snow conditions on I-90’s mountain pass. Even exaggerated by 50 percent, his tale means the roads will be treacherous. I gulp down my coffee and wave to Roberta behind the bar. “We’re staying open as long as we can,” she says. “Don’t be stupid. Come back if you need to.” As I roll out of town, I check my rear view mirror. Lights atop the grain elevators are now just smudges in a thickening fog. Or maybe it’s snow, the storm already here.