You can take the girl out of the country…

From our January 2017 issue

By Fay Morningstar – Stoney Creek, Ont.

I sometimes find it difficult to know if I’m a country girl or a city girl. My birth certificate says I was born in Saskatchewan, so I must be a country girl. However, when I was just two years old, my parents left Saskatchewan and moved the family to Ontario. I have lived here in the city for over 70 years. Based on that, I must be a city girl. Or am I?

As a young city girl, I travelled back to Saskatchewan several times. On two of those trips, I spent almost three months in a very small hamlet called Silver Park. I believe this is where the country girl in me was nurtured and to this day, has never left.

Many scenarios come to mind when I’m comparing the differences between country and big city living.

Convenience is a way of life in the city and I really like that. However, city dwellers also contend with traffic congestion, noise pollution, and people in a big hurry, with no time for anything (or anyone) other than their own agenda.

On the other hand, people who live in the country plan ahead for a day trip to the city to do some shopping at big box stores, or perhaps keep an appointment.

Vegetable gardens are rare

The majority of backyards in the city are mainly grass and flower gardens. Vegetable gardens rarely exist – except maybe for tomato plants growing in pots. A variety of herbs and some lettuce planted in a big, round container is the extent of my own gardening.

I love visiting my friend in Saskatchewan. She has a couple of gardens; one is in the back area of their huge lot in town and the other is about five miles out of town, known as ‘the home farm’. This garden is humongous!

There, we enjoy picking green and yellow beans, filling ice cream pails to overflowing. This city girl thoroughly enjoys tipping and tailing the beans too. A couple of rows of peas are planted specifically for eating right out of the shell. I call it candy from the garden.

Here in the city, I’ve seen some beautiful sunrises and sunsets from my east facing front window or my west facing backyard. However, the view is drastically obstructed by rooftops and trees. The big sky of Saskatchewan is a wonderful place to capture the awesomeness of a morning sunrise or a spectacular evening sunset.

Berry good pickings

In late June and early July, I’m able to go to a u-pick farm to pick strawberries. That’s what city people do. But as a young city girl visiting my grandma in Saskatchewan, I recall taking a little dish from her kitchen and walking along the train tracks looking for wild strawberries. The sweetness of those little strawberries is a lasting memory I treasure!

Another memory from childhood is going with my mother and my grandmother to some highly kept ‘secret place’ to pick Saskatoon berries. Even now, in my mind’s eye, I see a huge washtub almost full to overflowing with Saskatoons taking up sitting space in the backseat of a small black coupe.

I’m sitting next to the washtub, running my hands through the berries and letting them fall through my little fingers as we drive home on the bumpy dirt roads. I’m doing it over and over again, until my hands and fingers have purple stains all over them. Mom was not pleased.

Fine country dining

A few years ago, I planted some Tiger Lilies in my flower garden. They remind me of frequent walks along the railroad tracks to pick a bouquet of wild Tiger Lilies and black-eyed Susans for my grandma.

Living in the city, there are numerous places to enjoy a meal. Choices range from fast food to high-class establishments and everything in between. But I ask myself, “Can I think of a better place to enjoy a delicious meal, than out in the field at harvesttime?” I experienced many of those meals and it was country dining at its finest!

I suppose we can take for granted the pleasures and benefits of where we live, whether it is in the congested, rat race of the city or the spaciousness and peacefulness of the country.

At this stage of life, I will have to be content to live in the city, but my heart will always be in the country.