Country Girl

When I met my husband, he kept calling me a country girl, because I grew up in Portage La Prairie. Technically it was a small city, being approximately fourteen thousand people. I mean, we had a Timmies, two Seven-11s and a Rotten Ronnies – that qualifies as civilization right? So I’d object and insist that I wasn’t a country girl.

He came out to meet me in person for the first time, and quickly realized I didn’t live out in the boonies, but he still teased me that I was a country girl.

I didn’t even realize I *was* a country girl until I moved to the city.

Now, by “The City” I do mean “The City” and not “The Big City.” Winnipeg is hardly a big city, I realize. It was a trading hub originally, being on the fork of two rivers, but as that, it’s still not a large city. But it’s the biggest city in Canada for five hundred miles any direction, so anyone in Manitoba refers to it as “The City.”

But I did eventually realize that people who didn’t grow up the way I did think about a lot of things differently. The first time I went to Lyncrest airport, my husband, who grew up in “The City” was with me in the car. When I turned onto Murdock road, he asked me several times if I was sure we were going the right way, because we were on a gravel road.

It’s little things. I’m “handy.” My mother-in-law asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and when I said a tool set, my husband told me she didn’t believe me, and asked him if I was serious. Getting a tool bag and tools for Christmas was awesome, seriously, and I totally use them. There’s something to be said for having the tool you need when you need it. One of my co-workers back at the call centre needed a knife one day and swiveled around and asked me first because he knew me well enough to guess I probably had a Swiss army knife on me.  (I did.)

My husband was a boy-scout and sometimes he tells me “a boy-scout is always prepared.” I tell him, “yeah, but a country girl knows how to improvise.”

My dad says the guys he hires to help him with the bees, when they’re city folk, you can tell. There’s a certain ability to think ahead and problem solve that they just don’t have, according to him.

I had an ex boyfriend who told me a story about when he and his army buddies were out on a road trip and ran out of gas. They had a jerrycan of gas but no funnel, so they couldn’t get the gas into the gas tank. I asked at the time, if they’d had a newspaper or magazine they could have rolled up into a makeshift funnel. He looked at me a moment and I realized not one of these army guys had thought to improvise.

Growing up, my dad would take my brother and I out to the shed while he was changing light bulbs on a ladder, just so that he would have someone to call 911 if he fell. Same with when he was shovelling snow off the roof on a particularly snowy winter – he had us on the other end of a rope on the opposite side of the house. Things like that taught us responsibility and caution. Not fear, but caution. To look for ways to make things safer and plan for worst-case scenarios. Very relevant to aviation, I might add.

And the time spent out if the bush. My husband says being out in the bush brings back happy memories for him from boy-scouts, but for me, it’s not just happy memories, it’s home. I spent entire days out wandering farmers fields and bits of bush in rural Manitoba frequently. It wasn’t time where we lined up to be shown something and waited our turn to try or touch it. We did as we pleased. We explored, turned over logs, built things, and were even trusted to manage a small campfire with very little supervision. We got into poison ivy, and brought home wood ticks, caught snakes and toads and picked flowers. It was one hundred percent unscheduled, until my dad honked the truck horn to call us back and head off to the next bee yard.

Of course, later we were expected to help out with the bees while we were out there, but looking back, I see more and more how growing up that way affected me. Being out in a rural area, I don’t feel out of place the way many do. I don’t see the shabby, run down buildings and turn my nose up at the lack of amenities. I talk to country people and the way they talk is familiar. I’m used to the way they get there when they get there, and stay until the job is done.

So despite knowing there will be a lot of new stuff I’ll be learning in the coming year, and knowing there are going to be things that are going to suck like missing my husband (mainly missing my husband!), there is a part of me that feels like I’m going home.

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