Aug 28 | Jackson Hotshots III

Scenes from a strategic firing operation by the Jackson Hotshots near Little Rattlesnake Creek to prevent the spread of the Schneider Springs Fire Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021 near Naches, Wash.

For decades, Labor Day weekend has been the traditional end of summer.

One last chance to hit the swimming hole, hike the high country or throw a legendary barbecue with all the friends, family or neighbors you can round up. The weather’s usually perfect — not too hot, nowhere near cold yet.

It’s the end of one season, the beginning of another. School starts, football and other fall sports kick off.

For such a bland-sounding holiday, it’s got a lot going for it. Especially around here.

It’s rodeo weekend in Ellensburg, farmers markets are still going strong up and down the valley and the Yakima Artists Studio Tour is on for today.

But sadly, like seemingly everything else now, one of our favorite times of the year comes with an asterisk or two this time around.

That omnipresent smoke from the Schneider Springs Fire north of Naches is one of them: Now is not the time for another wildfire, so don’t do any illegal burning, make sure your off-road machines have good spark arresters and follow basic safety practices.

We hate to nag, but we say it because every year, somebody does something foolish that ends up blackening thousands of acres of land, burning down homes or getting somebody else killed.

As much as the Yakima Valley loves its beer, this also isn’t the weekend for drinking and driving — not that any weekend is. But with extra patrols out, your odds of getting caught and charged with a DUI are higher than ever.

Washington’s strict laws aren’t intended to put a damper on your long holiday weekend. The idea is that a lot of heartaches wouldn’t have to happen if we’d all make a point of drinking responsibly.

And while we’re talking needless heartaches, for Pete’s sake show some common sense — and common courtesy — and mask up if you’re heading to any large public events. We’re all tired of arguing about this, but if you’re not vaccinated against COVID, maybe avoid those gatherings altogether.

If for no other reason, do it for yourself. This’d be a lousy time of year to die on a ventilator.

Other than that, plus the start of the NFL season being pushed back a week and the annual admonition to not wear white after Labor Day, you should be good.

In spite of everything, have a great weekend. Let’s just hope Labor Day 2022 looks a little clearer.