I have a friend who aspires to Paris life. She’s the sophisticated sash around her neck, smelling gorgeous, hair coiffed and white wool pea coat wearer in winter. She married an aspiring off-grid hunter. He likes cutting swaths on lonely trails so he can kneel behind scotch pine trees and wait for the doe prancing in the meadow, just in time for dinner. In their ideal world, they figure he can live in the Swiss Alps, she can live in Paris, and they can meet in the middle for weekend trysts.
We all have our ideal scenic backdrops for home. I’d choose Tuscany. It’s cliché. But it’s cliché for a reason. Have you eaten an Italian-born tomato or drizzled their olive oil on toast on the Tuscan hillside? You haven’t had a tomato till you’ve had that tomato. I would inspire that country air and sit in those country hills under the Tuscan sun permanently if I could. My Canadian alternative will have to be a Victorian-era built town in the Kootenays. Pretty charming as a Canadian mountain town.
We are presently living a half hour from that 10,000 person town. We live under Douglas fir trees and sun that dances on the lake, when it’s not winter overcast. What it has in common with Italia? The dolce vita, the sweet life–the slower life.
The first night we were introduced to our temporary abode (we’re building a house)… we were asked not to keep animals as the last tenants weren’t studious with theirs. We’ve made canine friends though: the neighbours’ dogs roam our yard, preventing our home from visiting bear and cougar so no need for more neighbourhood canine. We were warned of wasps nests building their home under the eaves of this post-war farmhouse. We discovered the basement of spooky spider webs and sunroom of stinkbugs and ladybugs later.
The kids call the creek in back the “Bridge to Terabithia”. The deer in the meadow accompany established fruiting apple and plum trees but there’s so many apples and plums I’ve only recently stopped making jam. We can share.
There are more quiet days at home. My headspace is quieter–fewer people giving voice in my mind. At times the quiet has been so loud that it thunder whispers in the dark. I’ve had to come to terms with myself in a deeper way. Despite four children living alongside me, it is quiet enough that some days I crave ‘town time’. But I am now quieter.
I’m told the neighbours keep their doors unlocked. Our urban living has influenced our unwillingness to do the same. A sign we’re hardwired city folk: we left signal into our driveway, not that anyone is around to see it. When we do drive, there are fewer trips to shops than city living. Instead, there is more time for hiking and canoeing, visiting neighbours, writing and musing, gardening and canning.
I have yet to grow a tomato comparable to Italia, but I’m gonna keep trying. I live closer to Kootenay time, which is probably slower or possibly comparable to Tuscan time, but the organic, real time living has done good things for this soul. Ahh, the Canadian version of la dolce vita!