When I had my first car, a steel-blue Ford Granada, I used to spend a lot of time exploring the roads in the Fraser Valley. Instead of going straight home from University, I’d take random rights and lefts, just to see where they would take me. Almost always, I’d end up on one stretch or another of River Road, with the muddy Fraser appearing here and there past the trees. River Roads run up and down both sides of the Fraser and I’ve never decided whether I think that was practicality or uninventiveness on the part of all those municipalities.
I don’t drive that way anymore. I gave up my last car many years ago and have mostly relied on walking, cycling and transit ever since. A few years ago, we joined the local car co-op, which makes trips out to the Valley easier, along with bulk buying errands and weekends away. Even if I did own a car now, my environmental consciousness has developed enough that I couldn’t just drive for the sake of driving again. I also think that development has really changed the Valley and that if you did try to explore in this way, you’d be more likely to get stuck in a rabbit-warren subdivision or industrial park than you would be to reach the river.
I was reminded of my old habit this past Saturday, when I decided to go to the Bakers’ Market for the first time. It’s located near Main Street and southeast Marine Drive, a very long bus ride from my neighbourhood. The area is industrial and I made my way through parking lots and across railway tracks to get there. It felt almost illicit, like trying to find a warehouse party.
The destination was definitely worth the journey, though. The Market takes place in a warehouse-like room at the back of a commercial park. Even so, they’ve made their space inviting and pretty once you get inside. I arrived at around 12:30 p.m., but many of the bakers had sold out by then. I could understand why. There were some hobbyists there, along with the professional bakers, but absolutely everything on display was beautiful. There were even vegan and gluten-free options available at some tables.
What struck me, aside from the beautiful baked goods everywhere, was how friendly and happy both the sellers and patrons were. Perhaps it was the (inevitable) sugar rush. I think, though, that it was more a matter of people sharing their exquisite artisanry with an appreciative audience.
I went home with ginger-marzipan cookies from Chef Kev, a mint chocolate vegan cupcake from Sweet Delights, an apple loaf from bäcker, tartlettes from sweetypie and some (unfortunately crushed) macarons from another vendor. I would have loved to bring home more. Next time, I’m going to go earlier. And although I appreciated my contemplative bus ride, I think I’ll book a co-op car.