It’s summer vacation, and The Olympian is taking a break from hard-boiled criticism

It’s summer, and in spite of every awful thing that’s going on in the world, our mood is good and all our thumbs are up today. The weather’s been mild, the warm rain has helped with water-conserving and fire-suppressing too. Our favorite feature of mild weather is that flowers bloom out more slowly than when it’s hot and dry, extending the number of days when we can breathe in the scents of sweet peas and lilies.

And of course we are looking forward to tonight’s Lakefair fireworks.

This is high summer, the peak of Northwest wonderfulness. Heat may now be ahead of us, but that’s OK too; it’s good to get enough of it to make us look forward to fall.

Hands up: Tribal canoes paddling to Lummi

Our hands are up in a traditional Salish greeting for this year’s tribal Canoe Journey, which is underway, with two canoes each from the Squaxin and Nisqually tribes now paddling north to the host Lummi Nation near Bellingham.

More than 100 canoes are expected to arrive there on Wednesday, July 24 for several days of dancing, drumming, storytelling and traditional gift-giving. They will come from coastal and Puget Sound tribes both in the U. S. and British Columbia. The public is welcome to attend.

Nisqually tribal council member and canoe skipper Hanford McCloud says, “This is our tradition of travel on the water, our ancestral highways.” Over the years, he says, “the canoe journey is bringing back our prayers, and revitalizing our understanding of what the water means to coastal Salish people. We want our young people to be strong and prosper in these traditions, and to know that this water ripples across the world.”

The modern Canoe Journey tradition started in 1989, during the state centennial, and has become an enduring part of the cultural and political renaissance of local tribes. We wish them all a safe and successful voyage.

Thumbs up: No ads on buses

The first half dozen new, advertising-free Intercity Transit buses have hit the streets, and they look quite sleek. We applaud IT’s decision to go ad-free to avoid the controversies and expensive lawsuits that political and other ads can cause.

IT General Manager Ann Freeman-Manzanares says the ads also caused confusion: “One person said she wasn’t sure if the bus was on its route or headed to the casino.” And she says riders didn’t like ads covering the windows; they appreciate being able to see out better.

We wondered if the ads could be replaced with local art – but she sensibly noted that art can be every bit as controversial as ads. So OK, we will settle for a restful-to-the-eyes break from relentless advertising.

Thumbs up: Video candidate forums and voters guides you can’t lose

Time speeds up in the summer, so Aug. 6 – our primary election date – will sneak up on you before you’re ready, just like Lakefair did.

Your official primary voters’ guide should be somewhere in your house by now. Surely you can find it, can’t you? If not, it’s online on the Thurston County Auditor’s website.

And if you need to upgrade your mail storage habits, you’d better turn over that new leaf now, because your ballot is on its way – and may have already arrived. You won’t want to find it on top of your refrigerator six weeks from now.

There’s are a few other resources that you can’t misplace and may find helpful: The League of Women Voters hosted local candidate forums on Thurston Community Media that are available on its Youtube channel for your viewing pleasure.

Meanwhile, Olympian reporter Abby Spegman is credited with assembling all the candidate information for an online voters guide on the contested races for city councils and school boards in Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater. (The candidate responses also are being published in Monday’s print newspapers, but don’t worry about saving them when you can go online.)

Thumbs way up: Sculpture downtown

Every year, the city of Olympia improves the public’s vocabulary with its “Plinth Project.” (Plinth: a heavy base supporting a vase or statue.) We think alliteration won out over “Sculpture exhibition and contest,” which is what this is.

There are 15 plinths along the Percival Landing boardwalk; each has a new sculpture each year, and each of us gets to vote for one that the city will buy and display somewhere permanently. The rest are offered for sale to the public by the artists who made them.

It is absolutely worth the time to take a pleasant, easy stroll and look at all of them. There is a container of ballots attached to the fence about midway through the walk that can be filled out and mailed, or deposited at the Olympia Center. You also can vote online on the city’s website. And you don’t have to live in Olympia or be a registered voter to participate.

We’re not endorsing candidates in the government primary election, but we do have a strong favorite in this election: It’s sculpture No. 8, “Truth Beloved” by Mardi Rees. We hope you will agree, but even if you don’t, let your voice be heard on art and in the upcoming primary.