Let’s talk Deere, not Dior

As we drove through the early morning mist, I gazed out past the front seat through golden farm fields and fiery treetops lit up by the sun. I was heading to Toronto on a road trip, and although most of my fellow Queen’s students in the car felt at home when we got there, the passing countryside is more familiar for me. The car ride reminded me of the day my class voted that having multiple new vehicles in the driveway was—shrug—fairly normal, and half of them admitted they cruised around in their own leased little numbers.

The driveways in my hometown would have voted quite differently. My family’s gravel strip is home to one broken down old Mercury and a 1990 GMC pickup with the “C” missing from the rusted tailgate held together by a rope. We bought it second-hand from a farm down the road, and for the first few trips, it still smelled strongly of cow. Although there have been times at Queen’s when I’ve felt out of place, there have also been many other times when the Q shoe has fit.

At home, however, I always belong. Here’s my shout out to rural Ontario. I came to Kingston ready to experience conversation beyond lazy comments about town meetings, crops, country politics and rural boredom. Daily dialogue with my neighbours (“what do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?”) was beginning to get tiresome when the answer was always, “nothing.”

But these days, somewhere between Stauffer kids and Career Services, I find myself looking up at the stars and wishing I could see the neighbours now. I miss working on the wooden docks of the lake at home and the creaking sound they make when you walk to the end. I love the feeling of being outside and doing anything you want ’cause there’s no one around to watch you. I like the way the sun feels on the back deck and the way it sets in explosive colours behind the barn across the street in the summertime. I don’t mind that the mall takes a half-hour drive on the 400-series highway. I don’t really care about Gucci and Louis and what those guys are up to, and I love the fact that, at home, nobody around me does either. On a morning run I could wave at three people and pass only one car, and although we didn’t learn about handbags, high heels and personalized licence plates, we learned to love the big yellow school bus at six in the morning, how warm flannel is, and how to plan hangouts well in advance to allow for transportation time. I learned in the winter to replace a mailbox after the snowplow eats it and in the summer to remove robins’ nests from inside it or your mail will be withheld. While I’m still hating and loving Queen’s, I’m done with hating on the country. “The best things around that I have ever seen, came from small towns and big dreams.” Word up, Paul Brandt.

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