There are a number of reasons why I love living in the Prairies, and in particular, living in a small-town and outside of a city centre.
Now, I'm not saying that cities don't offer some great amenities. When I lived in city, I loved being able to go to have my pick of any and every social activity possible, run down to the grocery stores when I ran out of ingredients on a Monday evening, or having the ability to hit up any ethnic restaurant of my choice at any given time. I loved being able to take in the pool hall or kick back with a beer on a rooftop patio on a hot day. I appreciated being able to have my choice of beautifully landscaped parks to go for a run in and checking out the many 'hidden treasures' that a city has to offer. I loved the diversity of culture in the city and the fact that people from such different backgrounds could mesh to make a city what it is.
Convenience-wise, city living is a great thing. The fact that at any point in time, a person can do whatever strikes their fancy at any particular moment is a nice trait. People warned me that after living in a city for eight years, it would be hard to 're-adjust' to rural life. But honestly, I didn't struggle with it one bit. Maybe that is because I grew up living in a small town, or maybe it is because I see rural life through a positive lens. But to me, living in a city holds no comparison to living in a small town.
Looking down Carlyle Avenue on my way to a work event, the sun was beginning to set and a rainstorm was in the horizon to the south. I couldn't help but be reminded of how great it is to be living in a small town once again.
While having my pick of any social activity at any given time was nice, I have my 'small-town activities' that I love just as much. Running around a lake holds no comparison to going for a run in the middle-of-nowhere down an old dirt turkey trail. Having a cold beer on a rooftop patio doesn't quite compare to a good bonfire with family and friends on a warm summer night. I laugh just as hard at the Monday night curling league as I did at the pool hall. Sometimes the best thing about 'eating ethnic' is creating the food yourself. A thunder and lightning storm on the prairie landscape is a hidden treasure in itself. So too, is the rainbow that often follows.
While culture in the city is diverse, what I love the most about a small-town is the different type of culture that exists within. The sense of family that exists. You know everyone and everyone knows you. And while at times it can be a significant pitfall for rural communities with its inclusion of certain people and exclusion of others, coffee-shop gossip and acceptance based on a certain hierarchy; the 'family' characteristic itself has the ability to offer small town residents something that a city could never offer.
It is in a small town where everyone knows their neighbours. Everyone says hello when passing someone on the street or waves to a vehicle driving by. It is in a small town where you see outstanding generosity when a community comes together to fundraise for a family in need or for a child affected by a disease that normally takes the lives of adults. Small towns are where you see an elderly neighbour pop by when you are building a house to welcome you to the community with cold lemonade on a hot, hot day. Children are raised with a sense of adventure resulting only from an ability to self-explore without their parents having to worry every moment about whether or not something is going to happen.
Regardless of some of the challenges faced by living in a small town, the benefits are tremendous. Living in a city has only made me appreciate more what a small town has to offer. For me, the thunderstorms and bonfires and wide-open countryside are worth living without the convenience. For me, a rural community will always be what I call home.