By Mandi Donohue

For bakers, holidays are not our own. Christmas and Thanksgiving festivities are drowned in extra orders, special events and longer days. This week, however, in some act of the gods (the old and the new), my day off fell on the Fourth of July.

I had to do a double take at the calendar, and it wasn’t too long after that that panic set in. How does one have a holiday these days? What’s the itinerary? What if I do it wrong? It’s like dating again after a really bad divorce. Maybe it’d be better to stay in, take a bath and read a good book.

Rather than tend to the ever-growing laundry list of my “to-dos,” I decided to go against my learned nature and dig my heels in to festivity. I was going to have a holiday, dang it! I was going to drive down valley, watch the parade in Twisp, listen to the bands and eat from the food trucks like a normal person. And guess what? I did and I lived to tell the story. I had such a good time!

Despite the fact that I’ve performed in shows here, I always forget the extent to which we have such an amazingly unique and creative community in the Methow. The Methow Valley Arts Festival performers were full of joy and looked genuinely happy to be doing what they love; and even more so, to be sharing their gifts with others. The bands were beautiful, spirited and lively; it reminded me of traveling. I began to think, why the heck don’t I do this more often? Oh, right. Self-professed workaholic and (insert myriad of other excuses here).

In Mazama, I oftentimes hear stories about the “good ol” days’ full of dog sled races, fiddling contests, winter dinners, dance parties and a time when Pizza Night at the Mazama Store “meant something.” I’ve noticed that there is a tendency to settle on the fact that we can’t go back, or that real community is impossible now.

I know the pendulum of tourism can be an exasperating one, but for someone who just communitied her eyes out, that’s a really sad idea. Yes, community can be about a time in history or a certain group of people with shared experiences and viewpoints, but I think it’s a huge misstep to forget that our biggest shared experience is our own humanity. As long as we have that commonality, community is always available. And maybe, if you’re not finding any commonality with those around you, it might be time to look within to find out what excuses you’re using to keep you separate.

Today I got to celebrate the Fourth of July with a bunch of other humans from all over the state of Washington and it was delightful. I partied with hippies, cowboys, yuppies, hipsters, old folks, ranch hands, children, blue collar, white collar and dog-collared individuals. What a gift! Today I have found that community is what we make it and finding that commonality throughout life can really work wonders for our own happiness. Thanks again so much town of Twisp and Methow Arts. It was the best Fourth of July I’ve had in years.