Since arriving in Wagga as a medical student, every town tour for visiting friends and family has culminated with a visit to Knights Meats to peruse the delicious offerings, taking home a selection of the best to enjoy.
I now read with great disappointment that owners James and Deanna have made the heartbreaking decision to close their doors.
They cited drought conditions as one of the major factors contributing to this iconic business leaving us after 45 years.
Is this a sign of what is to come?
Weather agencies are telling us that climate change is contributing to worsening of drought conditions in southeast Australia, with decreased cool season rainfall meeting with increased intensity and frequency of hot days and heatwaves.
January 2019 was Wagga's hottest on record with a month average of 37.9 degrees, a brutal 6.2 above usual.
Heavily pregnant, I suffered through the month and my previous interest in sustainability and climate went into overdrive.
I read every resource I could find on climate change, going down the rabbit hole of "Deep Adaptation" by Jim Bendall and wondering what kind of world I had brought my children into.
But then the weather cooled and my family welcomed a perfect little girl. But my reading, the hot weather and frequent afternoon dust storms enveloping our farm had saddened me to my core.
I watched as the majestic old pine trees around town called it a day and turned up their toes.
We need a declaration of climate emergency to be given priority within Wagga Wagga City Council. We need to see the WWCC environmental actions already being undertaken be bolstered by real targets with an affordable budget. Because climate change is real and it is here.
I wondered why no one else could see what I see and kept on with "business as usual".
But it isn't business as usual. All across the world, citizens are demanding that governments call this for what it is and declare a climate emergency.
Last Monday night, Wagga Wagga City Council voted to join a rapidly growing movement that now encompasses over 140 million people.
Once declared, councils move towards developing a framework to educate, mitigate carbon emissions and build community resilience against some global warming impacts.
These frameworks are developed by each council and are specific to their needs.
For example, Darebin Council in Victoria was one of the first councils to declare an emergency and set targets.
The targets are impressive and already well underway, with aims to reach a 45 per cent reduction on carbon emissions by 2022.
Activities to achieve this have included retrofitting low income homes to make them more energy efficient, ensuring new developments are highly energy efficient, educating households on home energy use, assisting residents switching to solar, encouraging residents to walk, cycle or use public transport, divesting from fossil fuels and developed a heatwave strategy.
This plan has a total budget of $127,000 per year, with additional grant funding from the state government.
Darebin is one of a number of progressive councils who are already functioning under "climate emergency" and are thriving.
This is not a "state of emergency" as has commonly been misconstrued in the media, which is a very different proposition where government agencies and emergency services direct all resources until the threat has subsided.
Under "climate emergency", Darebin has flourished, with almost 1000 new businesses opening since declaration.
We need a declaration of climate emergency to be given priority within Wagga Wagga City Council.
We need to see the WWCC environmental actions already being undertaken be bolstered by real targets with an affordable budget.
Because climate change is real and it is here.
By writing my letters, attending rallies and starting conversations, I can look at my kids and know I am trying.
Because, as the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists stated, "the future generations are not responsible yet are most affected and are least able to affect change".
We are looking to you Wagga Wagga City Council to effect change, retain the declaration of climate emergency and green the way to a positive future.