I drove through my old neighbourhood yesterday on my way to a meeting downtown. Popped into my favourite bakery with the boy for our old regular treat, a french eclair.
The pangs of homesickness caught me by surprise. I can’t believe how much I miss it.
East Van, Commercial Drive in particular, is such a vibrant, quirky, diverse neighbourhood. You can find the old Italian and Portuguese guys sipping espresso, arguing over football, laughing, tipping their hats cordially to the ladies as they walk by . . . Hippies lounging half-naked in the park . . . Men in the shade of the cafe filling the air with the sound of their impromptu drum circle . . . The smells of Jamaican, Cuban, Italian and Ethiopian food, proper southern BBQ, new age vegetarian, organic bakeries, stale beer and pot . . . The infamous Spoon Man, serenading patio diners with renditions of Girls Girls Girls! on the spoons . . . Children and dogs everywhere . . . Patios bathed in sunshine . . .
You can walk or bike everywhere you need to go . . . There is the lake, and the farmer’s market and the organic co-op grocery store . . . During soccer season every cafe and coffee shop puts a TV in the window and locals gather by loyalty, spilling out across the sidewalk, cheering and drinking beer . . . You can get the best cup of coffee, a pint of locally made craft beer, the best pastries I’ve had outside of Europe, all day $3.95 breaky, and a run through the water park with your kids. It is warm and friendly and usually bizarre and chaotic. Just . . . lovely.
I miss it so much it hurts my heart.
Some days when I’m out chasing chickens or trying like a mad woman to scare off coyotes or I’ve completely buggered something up through inattention, like yesterday when the new puppy’s spaz-out in the barn resulted in her unplugging the warming light for the chicks and I didn’t even notice, I wonder if I’m really going to cut the mustard as a country girl. When other people refer to me as a farm-girl or a country-girl, I still look around to see who they’re talking about.
I think about some of the women I’ve met from my hubby’s hometown. They are farm girls, through and through. They are strong as most men I know and tough as nails. These girls can toss a bale after bale of hay onto the truck, carry a huge milking can in each hand, get up at dawn to milk, sling muck, you name it. And most of them have been doing it since they were knee high to a grasshopper. Jeff’s mum’s doctor said she’ll probably never have to worry about osteoporosis; all those years growing up drinking fresh milk and working her tail off on the farm has given her the bone density of a 20 year old girl.
They just make ’em different out there. A city girl like me can’t expect to compare.
But the more women I meet here in my neck of the woods, the more I realize we’re a different breed of country mouse. I had tea this week with two other mums – one raising eggs and goats and veggies, another tending 80 hives of bees. Both have two wee boys and are full-time mums. In their past lives they were a lawyer and a stock broker, respectively.
Kind of bizarrely wonderful, isn’t it?
There’s a lot I miss about the city, and there’s a lot I don’t. The thing is, the city isn’t going anywhere. I can still stroll the Drive with my boy and enjoy everything it has to offer, and then happily leave the chaos behind and head home to a quiet, starry night filled with frog-song.
If you were to pop by my farm on a Sunday morning, you’d probably find me wandering the fields, weeding or chasing ducks, gumboots on and decaf vanilla latte in hand. What can I say. The city girl in me still enjoys her wi-fi and fair-trade organic coffee and good local wine.
Maybe I’m a city mouse in country mouse clothing . . . Maybe I’m a new kind of country mouse altogether.