Tuesday, December 3, 2019

NEW IN TOWN: An Introduction

"Where are you from?"

It's a question I'm learning to anticipate, though when I arrived here eight months ago, it took me by surprise. How did they know that I'm new in town? I'm from Toronto.  I had lived in downtown Toronto for over 50 years when I suddenly decided to pull up stakes and move to rural climes.  The tiny commercial building I owned, on a 640 sq. ft. lot on a main street in the capital city of Ontario, was apparently worth more on the bloated real estate market than a spacious house on 5.63 acres of beautiful waterfront land in Wellington County.  You do the math.  Who wouldn't want to live here?  I breathe clean air, drink delicious well water, work harder than I have ever worked in my life - and I sleep like a log, every single night.  In Toronto, everyone complains about insomnia.  In rural Ontario, people complain about invasive plants on their property.  Perhaps Dog-Strangling Vine keeps them up at night.  I'd never heard of this alarming-sounding weed before I arrived here last April.  But it likely doesn't thrive in concrete, eh?

In no particular order, here are five things I've had to get used to in my new locale:

1. Driving a car. Everywhere. In Toronto, I hadn’t owned a car since 1988. I walked, used public transit, took taxis, rode a motorcycle in good weather, and had a carshare membership if I needed to transport heavy things.

2. Strangers speaking to me. Back in the city, if a man I didn’t know walked up to me on the street and made a personal remark, he’d probably earn himself an earful, or a fat lip, depending on the comment. On the main street in Erin, when a local guy commented appreciatively on my jeans (okay, they were red jeans, but still…) I just laughed and replied I’d think over his offer to go dancing.

3. Propane. It never occurred to me that I would have to phone in a request for a fuel delivery. I’m used to an unlimited supply of natural gas, and I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t even know where my propane tanks were on the cold day I ran out of fuel. But the propane company is on my permanent Christmas card list from now on, thanks to the same-day humanitarian delivery that warmed more than my heart. I now know where my tanks are, and how to read the fuel gauge.

4. Rubber boots. I hadn’t owned any since I was five. Nowadays, I’m worried that my well pedicured city feet, more used to elegant footwear with heels, are going to take on the size and shape of my rubber boots from Budson’s Feed Store. These boots are excellent, and I wear them all the time.

5. Neighbours who come right over to talk to you. I love this. In Toronto, if someone knocks on your door without a formal invitation to do so, it probably means your building is on fire. Here, your neighbours know when you’re home. How do they know? Because your car is in the driveway. And if you don’t answer the door right away, they just assume you’re out on your property somewhere and they go and look for you.

Aren’t you going to feel isolated?” That’s what all my Toronto friends asked when I told them of my decision to move away from what I’d always believed was the centre of the universe. “I’m hoping so”, I’d quip, but in fact I’ve only been here a month and I already have a social life. My immediate neighbours have been generous and welcoming, and I’ve met several other neighbours while selling surplus items on Kijiji. Last week my motorcycle broke down while I was putting air in the tires at a service station on Main Street. While I was waiting for CAA to come to my rescue, a very nice couple showed up and offered to help me get the bike started. Five minutes later, my bike was revving nicely and I’d learned a valuable lesson from Scott and Sandy: “We look out for each other here”.

Did I mention I got another essential item of clothing for my new life? Yes, I bought myself a blue plaid flannel shirt at Budson’s. It’s the perfect fit and I love it….but to be honest, my red jeans look absolutely terrible with it. I won’t be going dancing in that outfit.

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