As Olive and I were sitting along the shore of the Upper Rideau having a little afternoon picnic one day a few weeks ago, a pair of older ladies walked up to us. Smiling, I said “hello” as I kept playing with Olive. They both nodded and then the taller lady with salt and pepper hair and rosy cheeks asked me “What did you do to deserve this?” I looked at her, a little confused because I didn’t really understand her question. She asked again “What did you do to deserve the chance to live in such a beautiful little town?”. I thought for a minute and eventually said “I didn’t give up on the country like so many people do”!
I grew up in a small town not far from Westport. When it was time to go away to school, I looked at universities in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto, but I couldn’t picture myself living in a world with tall skyscrapers and concrete parks. I happily decided to pack up and move 3 provinces away to attend beautiful Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Although I imagined myself falling in love with a Nova Scotian sailor and starting a new life in a small east coast fishing village, I fell head-over-heels in love with a friend from my high school. Scott brought me back home to the wonderful town of Westport, and I couldn’t be happier with our choice to stay in the area we grew up. You see, far too often people graduate high school and move to the big cities for work. I definitely understand that it is hard to find a job in your field in a tiny town like mine, but I couldn’t bare to give up the beauty of the country, so I opted to commute. Some of my early mornings are hard, but the gift I get as I drive home over the mountain is pure charm and is a constant reminder why I do what I do.
Westport reminds me of the little town of Stars Hallow on the Gilmore Girls (yes, I was a Gilmore Girls junkie!). You walk the streets under the age-old Maple trees, chatting with the locals who wouldn’t think twice about asking you in for tea. You can watch young children meeting up with their friends on bikes and rollerblades, grandparents happily sharing their ice cream with their grandchildren and longtime friends meeting up for lunch on the deck of the bakery. The business owners are always so welcoming and helpful to both locals and visitors of Westport. The family-run grocery store is by far the best around, and the two coffee shops rival any big franchise. We have two wonderful bakeries that I frequent quite often. Westport is known as a retirement town, but more and more I’m seeing younger families setting on our quiet streets. I love turning the corner and seeing little children playing street hockey, moving their nets to let cars pass. I love hearing the choirs singing in the 5 different churches that are nestled on every corner. I love the small unique shops that draw so many people to our town.
I have always loved and appreciated my small town, however my love has grown immensely as I stroll the streets with Olive in tow. It’s almost as if I see things with new eyes. We spend a lot of our time outside exploring, whether it be the hiking up and down the sidewalks in town, or running through the fields in our backyard. I have learned to spot the things that will fascinate Olive and have made a point to take time out of my day to bring her to that place, or show her that new thing in the yard. Growing up in this area opens up so many opportunities. In the summer, we are surrounded by a canal system that has shaped the heritage of our area. Boaters travel from around the world to say they sailed the Rideau Canal. I am proud to say that I started my career cranking the locks just as they did 200 years ago. It’s almost a right-of-passage in your teens. My entire family, as well as Scott’s have all worked on the canal at some point in their lives. It shaped my interests and my passions. Some day Olive will work their too, but for now, we will enjoy the water system by kayaking, and swimming, and water skiing in the summer and skating and snowmobiling in the winter.
Farming comes with country living. We ourselves are not farmers, but we love to support them. I grew up on a small hobby farm where I learned the importance of hard work. We are surrounded by farmers, big and small. We witness the amount of love that goes into curating a perfect garden full of fresh fruits and vegetables. One of our favourite things to do is making a weekly stop at Levi’s vegetable stand to fill up our baskets with fresh produce that we know was just harvested that morning. There is a warming feeling you get when you can talk to the people who grew the food that will feed your family for the week.
You see, I love where I live. I love everything about it. I love the smell in the air. I love the sights just outside my bedroom window. I love the friendly locals. I love the windy country roads. I love that we can visit the city, but always come home to our fields full of wildflowers. I love the freedom. Most of all, I love that Olive will grow up in a place that requires an imagination to have fun. Olive and her siblings will have fields to run in, and clean lakes to swim in. They will have a supportive community behind them when they skate in figure skating competitions and play in tournament hockey. I am proud to live in the country and am even more proud to give Olive the chance to grow to love it too.
I am excited to let you, my amazing readers, in on a little secret I’ve been working on. I truly feel that it is important to love where you live and embrace all the opportunities your town or cities presents. This post is the start of a series called “Love Where You Live” where you will join me with many Momma’s around the world as they share their “Love Where You Live” stories. Not only will this give you a chance to learn about many towns and cities around the world (and maybe even inspire you to travel there with your families) but it also might inspire you to try new things in your hometown! In a few weeks you will have the chance to visit Sara and Orla of Me and Orla in her town of West Yorkshire, England! If you would like to be a part of this series, please e-mail me!