Living Best as City Mouse

Even though Cycle Write blog is peppered with wilderness photos and near poetic odes about Nature, at heart, I live best as a City Mouse.  An urban life person.

Front lawn completely converted into a garden. Near downtown Toronto, ON 2015. Photo by J.Chong
Front lawn completely converted into a garden. Near downtown Toronto, ON 2015. Photo by J.Chong
Tree punches through civilization OR restaurant back patio walls built 'round tree branch. Toronto, ON 2015.
Tree punches through civilization OR restaurant back patio walls built ’round tree branch. Toronto, ON 2015. Photo by J.Chong

Sure I’d love to claim that I revel in cabin or at least home living in the unlit forest.  There is an implicit suggestion, that liking urban life means a person is leaning on the crutch of other people nearby, for intellectual stimulation and support. That one cannot be truly independent and not enjoy quiet solitude in the city.

Fabric art scene of camper in wilderness. Granville Market 2013. Photo by J.Chong
Fabric art scene of camper in wilderness. Granville Market 2013. Photo by J.Chong

I would like to offer two main thoughts:

  • Solitude in the woods or living in very rural area works if you are well-prepared, healthy and mobile. It doesn’t work if you become increasingly fragile or weak, less physically mobile or cannot do daily chores yourself.  We are all dependent on other people who care for our well-being.
  • Contemplative solitude is possible in daily city living.  Your creative imagination, your Muse can be just as deep and expansive as living in rural area.

Below are some amusing (to rural folks) moments about my awkward, sometimes funny encounters as City Mouse toying with the romance of Country / Wilderness Mouse living.

Farmers' market and bike festival day in mountain town of Revelstoke, British Columbia 2015. Photo by J. Chong.
Farmers’ market and bike festival day in mountain town of Revelstoke, British Columbia 2015. Photo by J. Chong.

Rural and Wilderness Nights Just Pitch Black
Yes, it’s nice to see a constellation of stars.  But I can’t even see my own hand in front of my face when I go to the campsite outhouse.  I  joked with Jack who owned a 100 acre-farm:  Was he ever temporarily lost at night, on his own property? He was once.

Quirky shoreline home. Saltspring Island, British Columbia 2014. Need ferry transportation occasionally from this lovely location.
Quirky shoreline home. Saltspring Island, British Columbia 2014. Need ferry transportation occasionally from this lovely location.

Whenever we go mountain snowshoeing into evening, I want to shuffle down quickly to our hotel’s warm lit coziness.

Feeling Lost In Winter Night Wilderness
Once at evening dusk, I panicked mildly when I snowshoed solo towards our hotel. I wasn’t sure. Snow and ring of mountains looked all the same. I was lost on a mountain slope with no signs, but I could hear snowmobiles whining away several kms. away.  I suddenly realized this was worse than being lost on bike in the dark:  it was winter cold! Enough said.

Jack retraced his steps half an hr. later from our hotel at mountain base, to fetch me. (I didn’t have a cellphone  –not that cellphones work in all rural-wilderness areas.)

You Need to Have a Car-Dependent Life
Unless you live at the village centre or there’s terrific public transit (which probably doesn’t run often daily), then a carbound lifestyle is necessary. This especially true in North America, where land mass distances are just greater.

Village on Maui island. Hawai'i 2009. Photo by J.Chong. Hardly saw cyclists on roads which were wide but with fast moving cars.
Village on Maui island in a valley. Hawai’i 2009. Photo by J.Chong. Hardly saw cyclists on roads which were wide but with fast moving cars.

Rural Limits on Local Cultural Diversity and Organized Arts Activities
Unless I live at the village centre or tootle around by car, I can’t expect much varied cultural options weekly. An exception would be if I lived in a tourist rural area.  For local residents after awhile, it can be bothersome dealing with  tons of tourists year-round.

Some rural areas do offer some cultural arts activities. Inside a tented reception dining area with local art. Muse Winery, Saltspring Island 2014. Photo by J.Becker
Some rural areas do offer some cultural arts activities. Inside a tented reception dining area with local art. Muse Winery, Saanich. Vancouver Island 2014. Photo by J.Becker. Island does cater to tourists. However winter is rainy, grey and cold.

Rural and Wild Animal Noises Freak Me Out a Tad

Friendly cow herd at fence border along Elk Island National Park, Alberta. 2015. Over 900 wild bison in park.
Friendly cow herd at fence border along Elk Island National Park, Alberta. 2015. Over 900 wild bison in park.

When we camped in a campsite, Jack was amused when I was afraid of the cows peering and mooing over the fence where our tent was just 10 metres away.  Last year, I got excited when I thought I saw wild animals in the forest national park.  It was just cows staring back at us, by the fence boundary.  I put this animal noise fear to the fact that I come from a family that never owned a dog nor cat.

Cycling north 20 km. outside of Revelstoke, British Columbia 2016. Photo by J. Becker. Probably in low light, night time not good, since there are wild bears in this mountain wilderness area.
Cycling north 20 km. outside of Revelstoke, British Columbia 2016. Photo by J. Becker. Probably in low light, night time not good, since there are wild bears in this mountain wilderness area.

(However I did encounter a wild bear cub less than 10 metres away in our hotel parking lot at a national park.  We have cycled by, only 10 metres away from  bighorn wild sheep.)

Crime and Safety Coexist in Countryside and City
People like to cite the higher risk of crime in city. I guess. Crime happens out in rural areas too because it’s harder to detect immediately or call for immediate help.  Besides, nowadays online fraud these days knows no boundaries for victims anywhere in the world.

B.C. Stadium to left. Looking north to mountains towards Burnaby. Vancouver, BC 2015. Photo by J.Chong
B.C. Stadium to left. Looking north to mountains towards Burnaby. Vancouver,
BC 2015. Photo by J.Chong

Your Personal Affairs- How Some Country Mice Cope
Some folks think that rural living means neighbours stick their busybody nose in your personal life.  However, I know several long-time friends who have coped very well in villages and towns.  They are careful on what to reveal to neighbours about their personal lives and decisions.  But these are friends, who also cultivate strong friendships with others in city and elsewhere.  I have been that City Mouse, an antidote and  confidante for Country Mouse long-time friends.  They have reciprocated by hosting me in their homes for a taste of Country Mouse living.

Permanent pavement art at a local mini-water shuttle boat landing stop. Overlooking False Creek. Vancouver BC 2015. Photo by J.Chong
Permanent pavement art at a local mini-water shuttle boat landing stop. Overlooking False Creek by Seaside bike-pedestrian path. Vancouver BC 2015. Photo by J.Chong

However, each of these Country Mouse friends, have recently moved to a city. To be close to services and people with similar interests.

So there is a time and place in one’s life for Country Mouse or wilderness living. If you have chosen this, enjoy the most while your health lasts and your friends are still around.

Wild prairie grasses and buds along bike path. Calgary Alberta 2014. Photo by J.Chong
Wild prairie grasses and buds along bike path. Calgary Alberta 2014. Photo by J.Chong

Urban Life Lover- Greater Choices Now and Long-Term
As for me, I’ll just be an urban life lover and  resident  –without distractions of tv., Facebook, Twitter or cellphone.  For the last few decades,  I’ve found my imagination in peace and solitude already.  I have good friends and loved ones in the city. I occasionally wander into Nature and wilderness with a map, and return to home.

Fall in Kitslano neighbourhood along 10th Ave. Vancouver BC 2015. Photo by J. Chong
Fall in Kitslano neighbourhood along 10th Ave. Vancouver BC 2015. Photo by J. Chong
Sunrise from Vancouver BC highrise building. Looking towards Mount Baker, Washington. 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Sunrise from high rise building. Vancouver BC skyline with fog traces and in background, Mount Baker, Washington state. 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Advertisements

18 Comments Add yours

  1. Alex Hurst says:

    I’ve definitely enjoyed a shift from car dependency to bus or foot dependency since moving out of a semi-rural area in California. We were still a city, but surrounding by farmland and only one bus servicing the highway where I lived, so cars were sort of essential if you actually wanted to get anywhere. Now I want a car purely when I want to travel a bit further, but it’s a minor inconvenience to not having one.

    Those pictures of Vancouver are lovely! I’ll have to go find that permanent sidewalk art sometime. 🙂

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      You will, Alex. But need to get into downtown Vancouver to see more sidewalk permanent art. In Toronto, I lived in the suburbs –a 16 km. one way bike ride into downtown Toronto. But I lived across the road from a subway station. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mabel Kwong says:

    Beautiful picture of the city around you, Jean. Beautiful orange sunset, and it must have been a warm summer (?) day. Like you, I am a city and urban person but that’s not to say I don’t like and appreciate rural life and living. You are right that having good health is essentially to living out in the country where the next town might be a bit of a drive away or your neighours aren’t all within walking distance – and it might be a matter of life and death. As someone who has always suffered from health issues, living in an urban area I know I can have medical care whenever the need arises.

    However there are times when I find solitude in a quiet town. The quiet pace, the animals roaming about whichever direction they like, the rolling mountains…there is something that tells you there is no need for rushing about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      What is the rural area around Melbourne like? Treed wilderness or more flat grassland? Hope you take advantage of park areas in Melbourne. Biking does help me get into areas on paths where I normally wouldn’t feel as safe if I was walking (or jogging, which I don’t) solo for great distances.

      Like

      1. Mabel Kwong says:

        A bit of both depending where you go to – wilderness with trees and hills, and then flat grassland. I suppose with biking you have speed to your advantage whereas if you are on your feet solo anyone can jump at you.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Jean says:

          I know so little about Australia, Mabel. You should inform us in a fun way –one day. I just think the centre of Australia is not heavily inhabited, there’s a desert somewhere, you have mountains with some snow, there are some unusual creatures because of its geographic isolation (surrounded by ocean), etc.

          I’ve tried to express the vastness of Canada, some climatic differences and regional cultural differences. It’s tough but hopefully occasionally gives some context on certain favourite topics of mine. (Googling is great, but sometimes people don’t want to spend time for a personal blog post..)

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Mabel Kwong says:

            You are right. The middle and centre of Australia is full of desert and barren land. Maybe you will visit some time in the future 🙂 You do a great job of presenting Canada on your blog, Jean. I love coming back.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Jean says:

              I’ve always enjoyed a lot of your posts on your blog also.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. thedumplingmama says:

    Pictures are lovely. Could not imagine how scared you were being lost in the cold! That probably would have been my last time in the country! I love the contrast of being exposed to both city and country. My heart is living in the city but most all the places I want to visit involve nature. This summer we’ll visit Vermont and the Grand Canyon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Being temporarily lost in winter wilderness in mountain country has taken the edge for me in doing snowshoeing by myself in those areas. I don’t live in such areas so would be different from someone else.

      I loved Vermont –it was my first bike trip with my partner. First time cycling around with my gear. We spent 5 days in early fall.

      Like

  4. TinLizzie72 says:

    I love this post! I was just thinking about the Country Mouse and City Mouse myself. Although I enjoy the country, I am definitely a City Mouse! Our recent trip to Missouri and Arkansas reinforced that. I prefer to have everything easily accessible by bike, bus or foot; like the cultural opportunities such as museums and symphonies; great restaurants; and other city life amenities. Of course, it helps that we live in a complex with large trees and huge green space, and our neighborhood is old and full of gardens and trees, and that nature is barely an hour away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      🙂 My family lived in an Ontario town of 2,000, during the lst 3 years of my life. But I have no memory of that. The next city was 30,000 in Ontario, which grew to 80,000 by the time I left home after lst few years of university. It is actually twinned right beside a bigger city. Hence, many streets ran across 2 cities and we experience 2 different downtown core areas in addition to the suburbs. It felt like 1 big city to me and other locals.

      I never realized my preference as a City Mouse, until I started to stay for several visiting days with friends in rural areas and also….as a touring cyclist in Canada and U.S.

      Would love to hear what you thought of Missouri and Arkansas. They are 2 U.S. states that here in Canada we never hear much about…except the Black Lives Matter situation and fatality, etc. Yea, negative stuff from media.

      Like

  5. livelytwist says:

    Lovely photos Jean. I’m a city girl myself, though I enjoy the occasional retreat to the country.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      I’m like you. As long as there are trees and park near by….and many other criteria. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sue Slaght says:

    Jean I love this post. I grew up in a very rural area in Saskatchewan. I’ve also lived in a small town. Like you my comfort is in an urban area. I like the amenities and the vibrancy of the city. We do disappear to the wilderness but I love to return. City mouse it is! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      First 3 years of my life was in a town of 2,000 in southern Ontario. But I have no memory of that.

      I certainly appreciate and want many trees in my neighbourhood or at least within 5-10 min. walk an area with lots of nice trees. It is lovely to hear birds twittering at sunrise and sunset from home. I consider amenities and close access quite important for myself…even if I’m still very healthy. I’m sure your mother is finding it a change…

      Like

  7. Lani says:

    I think city vs country really, really, really depends on the city and the countryside in question. Some cities are polluted monsters and traffic nightmares, while others are well-planned, convienient and vibrant.

    I would imagine Canadian cities are the latter. And based on my visit to Vancouver, and your blog posts, Canadian cities are probably all truly lovely. 🙂

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Yes, true even our faceless suburbs are generally clean even if some neighbourhoods are isolated from many conveniences unless one has carefully thought through about nearby conveniences and services. My partner was in a smaller city in Taiwan: he was struck how ugly some of the homes and stores were. And it’s not a developing country. Yet, he ended up in an expensive downtown area where it was well-designed, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

Chime in with your thoughts here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s