Polar Bear Poem Party is an annual tradition at Arrowhead

  • Written by Deborah Stone
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Teacher Amanda Budwill’s second grade class waits patiently to recite “The Polary-Bear” by Shel Silverstein. Staff Photo/Deborah Stone
Every child in Mandy Budwill’s second grade class at Arrowhead Elementary knows Shel Silverstein’s, “The Polary-Bear.”

The students all learn to memorize and recite the humorous poem and many never forget it, even years later.

Some continue to return to the school as they get older to join Budwill and her class at the annual Polar Bear Poem Party, where they get the opportunity to recite the poem once again.

This special event was set in motion 18 years ago.

“My second graders memorize and recite poems every week,” explains Budwill. “We keep a poetry notebook and frequently reread our favorites. For some reason, my first class really loved and remembered the Polar Bear poem. The next year when my class was reciting it, the third graders wanted to return and say it with them. So they did.

“Then the following year, the third and fourth graders returned to recite with us, and the tradition just continued. Now we have students from Kenmore Junior High, Northshore Junior High, Inglemoor and once in a while, even college students who return. We only recite that one poem every year at this event.”

Last year, Budwill notes there were over 100 students who participated. She adds, “I think they return for the tradition, the polar bear cookies, the prizes for seniors and the fun!”

The children in Budwill’s current class recite first. Then each group follows in grade level order. Seniors recite last and each receives a small remembrance token. Then everyone eats cookies and Budwill gets a chance to visit with her former students.

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Kenmore and Northshore Junior High students return to Arrowhead Elementary to recite the poem at the yearly Polar Bear Poem Party at Arrowhead. Staff Photo/Deborah Stone
Take Chloe Jarvis, for example. The Kenmore Junior High ninth grader has been coming to the event since she was in second grade.

“Mrs. Budwill is one of my favorite teachers,” she says. “She’s really the only teacher I know who does something like this and I think it’s just so memorable for the kids. It brings everyone back together. And the poem is so cute and catchy, too.”

Lindsay Starostka has attended the party every year except one. She says, “It’s just such a great tradition and Mrs. Budwill is a wonderful teacher. I student taught for her last year and it was such a good learning experience. She handles kids so well and knows how to discipline without sounding mean. She is really skilled in the classroom.”

Kaitlyn Hollis, also a senior at IHS, is another veteran of the event. “I never missed a year,” she notes. “I love the poem and the tradition is unique and special. It’s something I wanted to do ever since I was in second grade and heard about it.”

Budwill describes the event as “organized chaos,” but comments that it is very heartwarming for her to see the interest kids have for both the poem and the tradition.

The local teacher believes that reading and memorizing poetry builds basic reading skills, such as phonics, rhyming, phrasing and fluency. She also feels that it strengthens memory practice and increases one’s confidence in the ability to stand and recite in a group.

She adds, “Memorizing a poem gives students a feeling of accomplishment and pride.”

Budwill’s class studies polar bears and other Arctic animals as part of their nonfiction reading and informational writing unit. Additionally, they spend time discussing global warming and the plight of the polar bears, as well as incorporate this learning with some map study skills.

The Polar-y Bear

By Shel Silverstein

There’s a polar-y bear

In the fridge-idy -dare.

He likes it ‘cause it’s cold in there.

With his seat in the meat

And his face in the fish

And his hairy old paw in the buttery dish.

Well, he’s sucking up the noodles

And he’s munching on the rice

And he’s slurping up the sodas

And he’s crunching on the ice.

When you open the door,

He gives out a ROAR!

It gives me a scare

To know he’s in there

The polar-y bear

In the fridge-idy -dare.

Get in the Nordic spirit with a visit to the Nordic Heritage Museum

  • Written by Deborah Stone
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The Nordic Heritage Museum is located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Staff photo/Deborah Stone
Seattle is a city of museums, ranging from the renowned Seattle Art Museum and Pacific Science Center to the more esoteric Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum.

And then there’s the Nordic Heritage Museum, a center of Scandinavian culture that although small in scale, is internationally recognized as a place where people of all backgrounds can be inspired by the traditions and spirit of the Nordic peoples.

Seattle was an important place of settlement for Scandinavians in the Pacific Northwest and the Nordic influence on the city was very strong for many years.

The Nordic Heritage Museum is testament to this influence and was created to help preserve and promote the Nordic culture in the region.

The center opened its doors to the public in 1980 and over the years it has steadily expanded its permanent exhibits, collections and programming.

Within the approximately 50,000 square-foot building (formerly Daniel Webster Elementary), there are 11 galleries, three classrooms, an auditorium, seven administrative offices, two libraries and a gift shop.

On the first floor, visitors will find “The Dream of America,” a permanent exhibit detailing the story of immigration told through a series of dioramas that show how Scandinavians made their way across the Atlantic and landed in New York.

From there, they headed to the Midwest, then the Great Plains and finally to the Pacific Northwest, ending in Ballard. Displays show the growth and development of a typical small Northwest community, complete with post office, church, drugstore, blacksmith shop and a family dwelling.

On the second floor, “The Promise of the Northwest,” another permanent exhibit, encompasses two galleries, focusing on the logging and fishing industries, which employed many immigrants who brought their skills with them from the old country.

Within these galleries, the contributions of the Nordic pioneers to the settlement of the Pacific Northwest are also showcased. Treasured and useful items the immigrants brought with them, including colorful folk costumes, textiles, tools and well-crafted furniture are on display in the Folk Art Galleries.

Also on the second floor are various temporary exhibits. Currently on view is “Bad Art? 1,000 Birch Board Pictures from Sweden,” a visiting exhibition representing a form of folk art from unknown origins in Northern Europe.

Sold as tourist souvenirs for more than a century, these humble objects have spread around the world.

To create the plaques, a postcard was glued to a thin piece of a tree trunk, typically from a birch tree. The image was then hand painted to the edges of the slice of wood and sometimes included three-dimensional objects. The exhibit challenges notions of what makes fine art versus popular art, as well as what constitutes bad taste versus good taste.

Also on display is “The Impression of Amundsen: Roald Amundsen’s South Pole Expedition 1910-1912.” The explorer Roald Amundsen’s personal diary from his South Pole expedition provided inspiration for this new exhibition of paintings and graphic works from several prominent Norwegian artists.

Up on the third floor, the differences and the common bonds among the Scandinavian people are delineated. There is one gallery for each of the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Each hall of this permanent exhibit highlights the individual group’s special achievements in our region. In addition to its exhibits, the museum also offers an array of programs including craft, language and cooking classes, guided tours, an active outreach program to schools, the popular “Mostly Nordic Chamber Music Series,” films, lectures and plays.

For more information about the Nordic Heritage Museum: (206) 789-5707 or

Plans for Eastside Rail Corridor gathering steam

  • Written by Sarah DeVleming, UW News Lab
The Eastside TRailway Alliance has big plans to breathe new life into the semi-deserted Eastside Rail Corridor, a 44-mile train corridor that runs from Renton in the south to Snohomish in the north.

Currently, the corridor is used to transport freight only a couple times a week, according to Bruce Agnew, director of the Cascadia Center for New Development.

However, the rail corridor could become booming again if all goes according to plan for the Eastside TRailway Alliance. It is hoping to secure $6.2 million in public and private funds to rehabilitate the 15-mile stretch of tracks from Woodinville to Snohomish. This upgrade would mean expanded freight operations, as well as a proposal for an excursion train.

Eastside Community Rail, supported by the Eastside TRailway Alliance, would sponsor the excursion train.

Kathy Cox, excursion train managing director for Eastside Community Rail, said the train would be called the Bounty of Washington: Tasting Train.

“It will celebrate local food, wine and stories [of the region],” Cox said. “It will be a taste festival on a train.”

The Bounty of Washington would run along with Eastside Rail Corridor tracks through Snohomish and Woodinville.

Eastside Community Rail believes that an excursion train would bring people and business into the Woodinville area.

“There used to be a formal excursion train, The Spirit of Washington Dinner Train,” Cox said.

The Bounty of Washington would offer a similar experience, and the majority of local businesses are warming up to the idea, Cox said.

According to Cox, 92 percent of wineries in Washington that responded to a poll sponsored by Eastside Community Rail support the Bounty of Washington, thinking it would be a good business venture.

However, the city of Kirkland has a different idea regarding what to do with its 5.75-mile segment of the tracks: It wants to build an interim trail of gravel on the preexisting rail bed.

According to David Godfrey, transportation engineering manager for the city, Kirkland wants to make use of the tracks as soon as possible.

“We feel like [a gravel trail is] what best fits our vision for the corridor,” Godfrey said. “Nobody is coming forward for any kind of use of the rails. … Nobody said ‘here is an actual proposal we have.’”

The stretch of tracks in Kirkland currently attracts walkers and hikers. A gravel trail would enhance the walking space.

The city plans to build the trail in gravel rather than cement so it will not be permanent, in case the rail segment will need to be rebuilt in the future, Godfrey said.

Kirkland is moving along with the gravel trail plan quickly.

A bid opening has been scheduled to see if any contracting companies could take on the project.

“If they’re in an appropriate range, we can move forward,” Godfrey said.

The city believes that if a gravel trail were put in over the tracks, it would attract new businesses to the area.

If the trail grew in popularity, Kirkland believes businesses would want to set up shop nearby, therefore creating more jobs.

The Eastside TRailway Alliance, however, disagrees. Karen Guzak, mayor of Snohomish and co-chair of the Alliance, believes that updating the rail line — including the segment in Kirkland — would be more beneficial than a gravel interim trail.

“I think there will be some jobs [generated from the trail] but I don’t think there will be nearly the number of jobs if there was a rail line,” Guzak said.

She also sees other benefits to leaving Kirkland’s rail segment in place for the time being.

“We wish that they would leave the rail there so we could do a regional study,” Guzak said. “We also see long-term commuter potential.”

According to Agnew, director of the Cascadia Center, the rail could also be used to transport construction materials to explore “temporary repurposing” of the corridor.

“The rail corridor could be repurposed by bringing construction material in … and taking it back out in a closed loop recycle,” Agnew said. “That would reduce costs to taxpayers.”

In addition, transporting any material by rail is more environmentally friendly, according to Agnew.

Transporting construction material by double dump trucks requires a large quantity of diesel fuel and emits pollutants into the air.

“We can improve air quality and public health by using trains for these construction projects,” Agnew said.

The trail itself has been around for over 100 years.

Previously owned by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, the rail corridor was purchased by the Port of Seattle in 2009 for $81 million.

The Kirkland segment, formally called the Cross Kirkland Corridor, was purchased from the Port of Seattle in 2011 for $5 million.

Regardless of what will ultimately happen to the Kirkland rail segment, the Eastside TRailway Alliance is hoping to get enough funds to rehabilitate the rail corridor from Woodinville to Snohomish by next year.

“I’m not very optimistic we will get all of [the money] by this year,” Guzak said.

Once the funds are in place and the rail corridor is updated, including rehabilitation of bridges that the rail line crosses, the focus will be shifting to the Bounty of Washington tasting train.

If Kirkland does not turn its rail segment into a gravel trail, Cox hopes that one day the Bounty of Washington will go through the city as well.

“We don’t want Kirkland to build over it,” Cox said. “We want to start the excursion service there, too.”

The next meeting of the Eastside TRailways Alliance is scheduled for Thursday, April 4, from 5 to 7 p.m. and will be hosted by the City of Snohomish at Angel Arms Works in Snohomish. Angel Arms Works is located at 230 Avenue B at Third Street in Snohomish. Please RSVP for the April meeting to Cascadia Center at (206) 292-0401 or by Fax: (206) 682-5320.

Mark March 30 on your calendar to celebrate King County’s long-sought-after acquisitions along nearly 20 miles of the Eastside Rail Corridor. These acquisitions are an important step in preserving the Corridor for multiple near- and long-term uses. The open house celebration event is scheduled alongside the corridor:
• When: Saturday, March 30, noon. – 2 p.m.
• noon -1 p.m. – officials’ comments
• 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. – social program
•Where: Seahawks Headquarters/Training Facility at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, 12 Seahawks Way, Renton
Open house activities will include short tours of a Corridor section using a hi-rail vehicle provided by Sound Transit. Snacks and refreshments will be provided. More information about the effort to preserve and develop the Corridor for multiple uses can be found at: Please contact Glynnis Vaughan at (206) 296-1980 with questions.

Tickets for Passport and RESERVE on sale

  • Written by Deborah Stone
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File Photo Signs pointed the way to the wineries taking part in last year’s Passport to Woodinville.
Passport to Woodinville, now in its 11th year, has become a well-respected and highly popular wine event.

“Food & Wine Magazine” regards it as one of “America’s 50 Most Amazing Wine Experiences.”

The two-day open house draws wine aficionados from all around Washington, as well as from neighboring states and even Canada.

In 2012, Passport attracted approximately 1,800 guests, and organizers predict a similar turnout this year.

Sponsored by Woodinville Wine Country and its partners, Passport offers wine lovers the opportunity to experience the area’s booming wine scene.

Nearly 40 different wineries participate in the event, opening their doors to attendees to showcase their wines.

Visitors, armed with special Passport wineglasses, are invited to tour as many of the participating establishments as they desire over the course of a weekend.

“Every winery has something special going on — be it a new release, an older vintage or a barrel sample,” says Jamie Peha, public relations spokesperson for the event. “Typically, the winemakers are around as well so you can meet them. Some wineries offer entertainment, some offer food and many are offering great incentives to purchase wine. It’s a great time to stock up the wine cellar. I also think it’s fun to be out and about and see others going from winery to winery. It creates its own excitement.”

For the wineries, it’s a great marketing opportunity, notes Peha, as it provides a chance to make people more aware of their name brand and expose them to the quality of their wines.

“Woodinville benefits from the marketing and advertising of the event as well,” she adds. “It puts Woodinville on the map as a tourist or visitor destination — there is a reason to come here. And then once guests are in town, they are also stopping to eat, get coffee and see what else goes on in Woodinville.”

Peha emphasizes that this area now has almost 100 wineries and tasting rooms, offering a wide array of tasting opportunities, from established wineries like Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia, to early boutique wineries such as Facelli and DeLille.

Then there’s the growing warehouse district where visitors can park their cars and find dozens of wineries and tasting rooms within easy walking distance.

“And we also now have several Eastern Washington wineries that have opened satellite tasting rooms here, such as Dusted Valley and J. Bookwalter,” she comments. “Woodinville Wine Country is really a microcosm of the whole state’s wine industry, featuring wineries from Walla Walla, Red Mountain, Yakima and more.”

A new exclusive event has been added this year in advance of Passport, which will especially appeal to wine aficionados seeking to taste a top tier selection of Woodinville wines.

Woodinville RESERVE will showcase 90+ rated wines and small production bottlings too limited for review.

“The idea for RESERVE came about after a few years of members talking about all the fantastic 90+ scores that Woodinville wineries receive and the sheer quality of wine in this community,” explains Peha. “This is a way to showcase the quality and really allow the public an opportunity to try these highly rated wines in one location.”

She adds, “The wines that will be poured are available to purchase through the individual wineries. Many of the wines are great finds and are in limited production. You won’t find this much great wine in one place very often so it’s a rare occurrence. Plus, you will get to meet the winemakers in many cases.”

Guest chefs from some of Woodinville’s well-known eateries will be on-hand at the event to serve up delicious bites.

Participating restaurants include Italianissimo, Barking Frog, Purple Café and Wine Bar, Station Pizzeria, Twisted Café, Le Petit Terroir and Pasta Nova.

Tickets to Woodinville RESERVE also include admission to both days of Passport.

“We’d love to see a full house for RESERVE,” comments Peha. “We want guests to be blown away by the quality of what they are able to taste at this event.”

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

What: Passport to Woodinville
When: Saturday, April 20 – Sunday, April 21, noon – 4 p.m.
Where: Over 40 participating Woodinville wineries
Cost: $75 for two-day pass; $65 Sunday-only pass

What: Woodinville RESERVE, a new evening tasting event showcasing top-rated wines and small production bottlings too limited for review, along with guest chefs from well-known Woodinville eateries.
When: Friday, April 12, 7-9:30 p.m.
Where: Columbia Winery in Woodinville
Cost: $75 for RESERVE only; $125 includes admission to RESERVE and a two-day ticket to Passport

Woodinville farm, Duvall dairy making cheese

  • Written by Hal Luhn, Woodinville Weekly staff
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Courtesy Photo Brian Scheehser, executive chef of the Trellis Restaurant in Kirkland, grows produce and herbs on his Woodinville farm. He supplies not only the Trellis Restaurant but the Cherry Valley Dairy.
Have you ever heard of blueberry basil cheese? How about carrot nasturtium cheese? These are new, real cheeses. Executive Chef Brian Scheehser of the Trellis Restaurant in the Heathman Hotel in Kirkland has partnered with master cheese-maker Blain Hages of Cherry Valley Dairy in Duvall to develop and produce five cheese varieties, each of which uses produce and herbs grown on Chef Scheehser’s Woodinville farm.

“Our goal is to incorporate as many locally grown ingredients as possible into all the dishes we serve at Trellis,” said Chef Scheehser. “We see creating our own line of cheeses with garden-grown ingredients as the natural next step and are extremely proud to partner with Blain and Cherry Valley on this project.”

In addition to the two cheeses above, three more cheeses — lavender rubbed aged jack, caraway and farm inspired pepper-jack have been created for the partnership. Cherry Valley Dairy, an artisan dairy, has been supplying milk to several Seattle-area cheese makers for years, and a recent renovation made it possible for cheese and butter to be made. On March 9, Cherry Valley Dairy and Trellis held a special unveiling of the new cheeses at the restaurant. The cheeses will be featured daily as special menu items to highlight the unique flavor profile of each variety. Scheehser has been featured at the famed James Beard House in New York City as part of its Best Hotel Chefs in America series, 2008.

In 2005, Gretchen Garth, founder and board president of 21 Acres, purchased Cherry Valley Dairy and kept it alive as a milk supplier to Beecher Handmade Cheese in downtown Seattle. Garth is still supplying them.
The dairy, under Garth’s direction, has since been refurbished. It now has a new cheese production floor, anaerobic digester that provides power to the facilities, and a new staff with pedigrees to match.
Cherry Valley Dairy acquired head cheese-maker Blain Hages in 2010 and dairy manager AnnMarie Stickney, a veteran employee from Beechers Handmade Cheese and a WSU graduate  who keeps the herd healthy and the fields fruitful.
Johnny Lechero is the dairy parlor technician and farm mechanic.
The Cherry Valley Dairy production floor is in Duvall. Their earlier cheese and butter beginnings are available in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, 21 Acres in Woodinville and at the Duvall Farmers Market (