Pastoral

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Many people go on and on about the beauty of this particular landscape or the other. They tell me how much they miss the hills of home or how there is something about the light in the sky that always tells them where they are. Each outcropping or stand of trees represents a landmark in their journey from childhood to maturity. Blah, blah, blah.

Frankly all countryside looks pretty much the same to me. As The Arrogant Worms put it: it’s all rocks and trees, rocks and trees and water. Which pretty much sums it up.

I was recently in rural Alberta visiting my in-laws in the wake of my mother in law breaking her hip. It involved a lot of driving around. My wife was telling me how it was all so familiar, so Albertan. I responded that the only way I could tell I was in Alberta as opposed to rural anywhere else was by the large number of oil pumps extracting hydrocarbons from the ground. That’s right. For me the most distinctive feature of the landscape was a manmade device important for powering cities.

Really, when I look around – to the extent that I can see through allergy blinded eyes – it all looks like empty fields broken by clumps of bushes or trees of various heights. I’m sure there is some variation in types of trees but really, it’s all just wood, right? And one little valley shaped by a piddling ass stream is pretty much the same as another wherever you go.

Now I’m not oblivious to the spectacular. Mountains with snow on top have always impressed me as have really big waterfalls and the ocean. Though it has to be a real ocean like the Pacific and not some piddling little sea or lake. Yes, nature can be impressive but really, if you’ve seen one big gush of water going over a cliff, you’ve pretty much seen them all.

For the most part I view the country side as pollen filled wastelands one has to cross to get from one city to another. Not that every city is a wondrous place but in my experience they are all significantly different one from the other. No one is going to confuse Seattlwith Paris the way I confuse Saskatchewan and South Dakota or the wilds of New Brunswick with northern Ontario or Wisconsin. Contrary to what Karl Marx said, even an idiot must prefer cities to rural life.

Cities have character. They have interesting architecture. They have fine restaurants. And theatres. They have interesting people rather than coyotes and bears. They don’t generally have an excess of allergens.

And they have airports which – to me – is the next best thing to teleportation.

But that’s ten minutes. Inspired by Sheri Dibble Shvonski though probably not in the way she meant.

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