This recent Easter long weekend, during the longest bout I might have ever had exclusively wearing pajamas, I had an interesting revelation.
I mean, there’s a lot of navel gazing that can be accomplished with four days off of work and there’s only so much gaming one can do in one sitting.
(Must be gettin’ old.)
I was pondering my childhood and growing up in a tiny village of 500 far outside of Ottawa. It was a sea of pastures and sparse forestry. And I have to admit I was completely bored, for the most part, with life out in the boonies.
There was a part of me that resented being so far out from the action, or whatever action my wee brain perceived it to be. Watching Sesame Street, with its lessons on urban inner-city life certainly didn’t help. While I wholly dug their song about the subway, I desperately wanted to know what the heck a subway actually was.
I know that my childhood ennui was pretty silly considering where I’ve found myself choosing to call home throughout my life.
My life in the country had soured me slightly against living too far out of an urban centre. However, it also grew in me an appreciation for open spaces and sparsely populated areas. I must have been making unconscious compromises in choosing my places to live because they all have the same physical similarities.
I know I need to be in some sort of urban centre, but the idea of living in a grand metropolis like Toronto seems pretty distasteful.
(Let alone dealing with a smoggy, sweltering summer and living next to large body of water you can’t swim in.)
So I find myself choosing places that are smaller, but still have full amenities – or, at least enough to really feel like you’re in a city.
Take a look at the three places I’ve spent the most time in and have really enjoyed.
Ottawa, Whitehorse and my current city, Saskatoon: each of these places are similar in scope and physicality. All three are small cities with rivers running through them. All three towns have a surprisingly vibrant arts community. And a short drive outside of each will take you into easily accessible wilderness.
(And yes, I wholly understand that, outside of Saskatoon, there’s a lot of flat. But this sets the stage for some grand prairie storms.)
I’ve never thought of being drawn to the same kind of cities, but the evidence is particularly apparent.
The whole “all three cities have rivers running through them” might be inconsequential, but I’m having thoughts otherwise.
Growing up, there was a creek I used to spend a lot of time at, throwing rocks, attempting to catch fish … the usual sort of idyllic country-creek activities. It was the best part of living in the middle of nowhere, having my own running stream of water.
This was my thinking spot, a place to watch the sunlight ripple and to dream of other places – larger places – places with subways.
It seems I’ve always been looking for a fine balance between country and city life.
I may not have settled on exactly what I’m looking for, just yet, but the fact that just a few blocks away from me is a Ukrainian restaurant, with a take-out window, might be proof of the dichotomy I’ve been searching for.
I guess I might have to put pants on now and get me some drive-thru cabbage rolls – the Ukrainian snack-wrap!