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.

Photo by Nick Wolochatiuk

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...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.