And now, the rest of the story
The purpose of last week’s column was to dissuade any naïve urbanite from emigrating to a rural area expecting things to be just the same. City life is not like a turtle shell that you can carry with you when you move out to the boonies.
The opinions I’ve expressed about life in downtown, suburbia and the boonies are based upon 25 years of near downtown life, about three years of existence in suburbia, living out in the sticks since 1975, plus observations made in the course of umpteen miles ( and kilometers) of travel in three continents.
Having confessed my roots and biases, I’ll now share my positive feeling about rural life, including times spent in the wilderness. There is no need for weather in urban areas. Skyscrapers, parking lots and airconditioned shopping centres are only inconvenienced by weather. It’s different out in the country. Rain quenches the thirst of the parched soil, whether it be a field of wheat, a meadow or a forest. The rays of the August Sun prepare the cut hay for baling and gives the corn that final push to maturity. The carpet of fallen leaves enriches the soil. The deep blanket of snow serves to insulate hibernating animals and dormant plants. The long daylight hours of spring give a reviving Gatorade burst of energy to all forms of reawakening life.
In the city, there’s a constant struggle to banish the darkness of the night by artificial illumination. Out here, we gaze upward, to marvel at the clusters of diamonds in the sky and the fleeting passage of meteorites, satellites and Europe-bound airliners. We are aware of the phases of the moon and the seasonal wanderings of the Sun in the sky. From time to time, we are entertained by the dancing of the aurora borealis.
What heats the cities comes from a nuclear generating station, or an enormous hydro dam or an oil field in the far away Middle East. Our nearby forests provide an opportunity to be self-sufficient by heating with wood, a constantly renewable natural resource. A pile of firewood and a wood stove have never been out of my sight since 1975.
Unless I can heat with wood, I’ll refuse to be put into an old age home.
The noise of my chainsaw doesn’t bother my neighbours for they also heat with wood. It doesn’t seem to bother the blue jays, chickadees and woodpeckers either. Those who live out in the country get acclimatized to things that are intrinsic to rural living.
That’s why I don’t get impatient when a slow-moving hay wagon or manure tanker delays me.
We have room for backyard gardening. That’s another opportunity to work toward self-sufficiency. Yes, we have to compete with the animals that are native to this plot of land we have wrested from them. We have no right to object to their presence.
Speaking of ‘ room,’ that’s something that’s affordable when you move away from Toronto’s Yonge and Eglinton, Vancouver’s Granville and Georgia, or LA’s Hollywood and Vine. Out here I was able to purchase one acre of nicely tended land, complete with a homey house, for well under six figures. In Toronto, that’ll get you a lot that might be big enough to park a Smart Car and a bicycle.
When’s the last time you searched for a house number in the city or suburbs? They’re camouflaged by ivy, ornate lettering on a background of non-contrasting tones and higgledy-piggledy placement somewhere on the house. Our numbers are boldly placed at the end of the driveway, lettered in reflective characters on a sharply contrasting background and posted at a uniform height.
No matter where you choose to live, whether it be downtown, suburbia or a rural area, there are sacrifices to be made and bonuses to be enjoyed. However, as Hank Snow’s and Stompin’ Tom Connors’ song goes, “ I’ve been everywhere, man”— and as John Denver sang, “ Thank God I’m a country boy”— there’s no place like home, wherever it may be.
A BARGAIN IN THE BOONIES – What does $ 100,000 get you in Toronto or Vancouver? Out in the boonies, less than $ 100,000 got me a nice house, one acre of cedars, pines and maples, gardening opportunities and room to do just about whatever I wish. That’s my home.