Saturday, January 03, 2015

Country Drives And Cowboy Dreams

There are some things that the city can never show you. I've had a penchant for old, heartland country music since my dad took my brother and I to see Grandpa Jones play at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville when I was 13 (sidenote: it was also on this 19 hour drive that I had to urinate really badly, but my dad, in his desire to drive like the wind, did not want to stop the car and forced my brother to use an empty MacDonalds cup to catch my fluid trappings) - Since that trip, I've always had a bit of a fascination with the classic cowboy character.

My grandparents on my mom's side lived in Colorado for many years, and visiting them was the ideal of the highly fabled, open cowboy plains. Rugged. Dusty. Craggy. Mountainous. Sprawling sunsets. A lone howling coyote, somewhere deep in the backdrop of night, singing a lonely tune.

But as much as I love the road, a cowboy, no matter how far and hard he rides, always needs a place to hang his hat.

I don't have much Colorado in me anymore, but there is a quiet latitude that creeps into your being when you put on your favourite track, add a little extra gas into your tank and venture out into the night-coated quiet, beautiful, rural regions of the enchanted Eastern Ontario flatlands. Farm fields turn into a burnt gold at dusk, and the busyness of day is draped in a blanket of stars and blue-blackness.

Over my twenties and early thirties, I've strewn my living quarters all across different regions of Ontario and Canada. Saint Catharines. Sudbury. Guelph. Kingston. Cobourg. Barry's Bay. Toronto. But I was never really happy in any of those places, and I always knew at one point I would return to the Cap City region.

There is something simple and majestic about the mild, magical peace of the Ottawa valley that speaks to me. I love having a nearly million-person city at my fingertips, but having gemstone countrysides just a 15 to 20 minute amble away. I love having time to think between drives, and fewer cars on the roads. Although I am truly someone who never really feels at home, and who is always looking for that just-beyond-the-horizon greener grass, this is as close as home has ever felt.

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