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Little did I know, when Gill and I went for a trip to the localSt. Jacob’s Farmer’s Market during her holiday, that it would be the last time she saw it as it had been for most of her life. It was consumed by fire shortly thereafter. This is not to suggest in any way that, when Gill goes somewhere, things burst into flames or suffer other dire consequences. Well, sometimes they do…just not this time. The cause has yet to be determined.

News of the tragedy spread like, pardon the expression, wildfire. FB was abuzz. In fact, Gill, now back in the UK, knew about The Market before i did…and I live five minutes away. It was of such monumental importance — for farmers, tourism industry (in L.A., they sell maps to houses of the stars; here, it’s ‘follow the Mennonite buggies’ maps), and the local economy in general, that it has almost become this area’s 9/11. Pictures in the paper showed the shaken masses (Mennonites in bonnets) peering over the fence at the carnage. The old timbers of the building were charred, leaning into each other — just like the twisted steel beams of the World Trade towers.

And everyone’s mind went there…or at least  those of the ‘journalists’ covering the blaze. How did the fire start? The whispers began. It was, oh, so suspicious starting as it did in the middle of the night. And it burned so quickly. Must have been something highly flammable inside. Possibly terrorism was involved!!

I couldn’t resist teasing Gill with this bit of speculation.

True to form, she exploded: “Ma! Enough with 9/11. It was 12 years ago. You people have to take it down a notch. This is rural Ontario, not New York city. Do they think a Molotov cocktail made in a big maple syrup jar hit the building? More likely that a cow patty ignited in a nearby barn. Or a horse kicked over a kerosene lantern.”

The cause isn’t officially known yet, but my guess is an overheated apple fritter machine or mice chewing electrical wires, mistaking them for cheese. Well, mice aren’t that bright and the smell of cheese DOES permeate the building…they were just looking where they thought the cheese might be. And it burned so quickly because it was a huge WOODEN structure with NO Sprinklers. Duh…

But in keeping with the can-do attitude of this area, things were up and running three days later. I know because I was there…along with the Premier of Ontario. Yes, it’s true, I run in exalted circles.

The outside vendors packed the parking lot and the crowds (along with the vendors and huge, inflatable giraffe) seemed upbeat. Oh, perhaps there was a behind-the-scenes fisticuff among meat purveyors trying to purloin an available freezer, but the cheery, optimistic folks of this region weren’t letting something like a fire stop them from purchasing. (If we had sent these people to the U.S. after the financial meltdown there, Bush wouldn’t have had to tell people to ‘go shopping’. They would have already been there, buying up all the wurst, fritters, and cheese to be found).

We’re sturdy stock. Clogged arteries for sure, but generally sturdy.  We don’t fret. We get things done. We also don’t let red tape get in our way. So, as usual, the throngs ignored the ‘Please cross at corner’ signs leading into the market lot. We crossed right in the middle of the road, just as we’ve always done. Deal with it! We’re strong, we’re back, and we’re jaywalking!

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