Originally published as a column on Armchair Mayor News on July 23, 2021.

This one tweet among the countless ones on social media caught my eye a few days ago. It was Tuesday, and the fires around Kamloops were once again getting rowdy and there were new potential evacuations to take place.

The tweet I read had to do with all of that, but there was a side of hope and goodness to it. The Wednesday farmer’s market was of course coming up the next day, so preparations were being made nonetheless for it, the tweet read. Be as it may, bread was to be baked and hopefully make it to the market.

It did. I went to the market, filled my bag with fresh produce and of course, fresh bread and treats too. Yes, each bite has an extra something to it: gratefulness.

I’ve been advocating for the goodness of our local farmer’s market for a long time. We are so privileged to have it. In troubled times, which is what we’ve been experiencing for a long time now with little to no reprieve, the value of a thriving local economy cannot be overstated.

Once again, I renew my appeal to our community to support the farmers who strive to bring their products to the market. It’s not just the actual products that pencil in the silver lining we so need these days but the continuation of a beautiful and necessary tradition that keeps us tied to a reality we can make sense of and one that we need more of, in the context of present-day superimposed scary realities.

Our local farmers spend just as much time outside as they usually do, smoke or not, because crops do not transfer themselves inside during wildfire season. Then they show up at the market and hope for the best, whether it is air quality or flow of customers.

I’d say let’s exceed their expectations, as far as the latter goes. Forgo the grocery store for the summer and get your freshest produce wrapped in friendly chats and smiles. The busyness of a market day comes its own kind of satisfaction: it makes you feel good for seeing people out and about, as if forcing normalcy to stand on its own two feet and allowing us to hang on to hope. It emphasizes the admirable stubbornness and commitment of our local farmers.

I invite you to celebrate the existence of this local economy hub with the same gusto we have come to celebrate blue skies when they happen. It’s glorious when it does. It makes you think, once again, that we can do it; tethering ourselves to hope via blue skies until their return without a timer.

And in the same thankful breath under the full soul-feeding blue, our gratefulness for those who work so hard to help return clean air to us all.

A final note on hard work, gratefulness, and the importance of doing the right thing when it matters: it’s summer and that means fun (for those who can afford to lend themselves to it). However, fun should not interfere, or worse, stop the hard and vital work of B.C. Wildfire Service crews. Yes, I am talking (again) about the boaters on nearby lakes and the constant appeal from firefighting crews to stop them.

It’s past the time when anyone can claim ignorance. Staying out of the way when fire crews need full access to it is not just considerate but obligatory. People’s lives and livelihoods depend on all of us doing the right thing.