The love of Rural Nova Scotia

The appeal of rural communities.

I spent a large part of my “growing up years” in a small rural village outside of a small town in Nova Scotia. We had limited resources, but unlimited connection.

We had to travel 3.5 hours by car to get to the nearest (and only) city of our province. The passenger train service was cut when I was about 12 years old. The airport cut-back flights again and again. The bus schedule was reduced to a skeleton of its former self. There was one largish department store and small mall, one large grocery store (and several small), and the “twin cinemas”. The smaller independents began to struggle as the franchises expanded further into small towns. We knew nearly everyone we saw walking down the street.

The circles of community service organizations certainly were connected and couldn’t work in silos if they tried. We simply shared too many resources, service providers and clients.

About five years ago I chose to live in a small urban centre (well technically, I live in the suburbs of it), where we have all the resources we could ever want at our fingertips. But there feels like a real disconnect in the community in comparison. There is something to be said for not having to travel any distance to get to any of the resources we need or desire. I feel better about the carbon footprint we are leaving behind, but I just miss that small town living!

Whenever I spend time in a small town I feel a draw “back-home”. I believe we could reduce our footprint in other ways if I chose to move back to such a place. But what about the limited resources? What about the limited work opportunities? What about the need to travel to the city for unforeseen needs to be met for our children?

On the other hand. What about being in the heart of the communities supporting the local movement i.e. fishing and farming)? What if we could safely let our children walk to school alone? What if we knew our children’s teachers, our doctor, our grocer and pharmacist, within the community?

I feel so torn, but this week I am feeling very much inclined to move back out to the country, after two very short visits to two beautiful rural towns.

Dream home(s) ???

Dreams are something that seem to come in and out of focus for many of us, and often just when we start to feel focused again, the dreams seemed to have changed shape, shifted direction, or altered in some way. There are just a select few (relatively speaking) who have that drive and constant focus to follow one dream for lengthy periods of life. You know, the Olympic champions, the world-reknowned artists, the award winning novelists, or the scientific discoverers…

My dreams tend to come into focus in multiples, not that they are all the same, just that they all look exciting and important, all at once. I have struggled with what to do with this for a long time, and still don’t know the answer.

It’s not just dreams about the big “what am I going to do with/make of my life?” questions, but also the accomplishments and overall picture of what my life looks like that do this. When it comes to homes and cars and travel, I have pretty simple basic tastes. Come to think of it, the dreams themselves can be pretty complex, but what I want out of them pretty simple. I don’t dream of a mansion of a home with 40 rooms and a indoor pool. But I do dream of lake frontage, space for a garden, and accessibility to transit. I love the thought of having the space to be nearly self-sustaining, (i.e. growing our own food, powering our own home) yet I want to reduce the amount of travel we have to do to get to things that we do need. Properties like those tend to come along with those mansion-like homes on them these days… Developers always out to make the most of the property value…

Lately, I’ve been really considering what sort of compromise we might be able to make for this to happen. Perhaps a smaller “city-center”, where we might be able to locate close to amenities and still have the space we desire? Or maybe we forget the proximity part of the equation and invest in more efficient modes of transport, like hybrid cars – or try to establish work from home (at least part of the time) and accept the long bus ride for the children to get to school?

Then there’s the conflicting nature of needs and wants. How do I fulfill my desire to always be close to the ocean, yet address the apparent health requirement my body has for a drier climate?

And what about the desire for a summer cottage on the ocean, where everyday we can walk out the door, hear the waves crashing on the beach and take a run in the sand?

That’s the great thing about dreams. You can be as farfetched as you like, THEY DON’T HAVE TO BE WITHIN YOR GRASP TODAY. We could have properties all over the world, but then how do we reduce our carbon footprint when traveling to them?

What becomes difficult is when we want to realistically pursue a dream. When it’s time to reign them in and look at what it would take to make them happen, and whether they are actually viable. In most cases we have to sacrifice one aspect of a dream in order to see another realistically within reach. This is where I get stuck.

How do I choose? What’s important today, isn’t always so. All I can do is try, and hope that upon reaching one dream, I’ll have it in me to pursue the next one. 🙂

How do you reconcile your dreams and when/how to pursue them? Or are you one of the few truly focused people?