Anyone remember the endearing children’s show, ‘The Adventures of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse’?
It featured the protagonist country mouse Emily, and her cousin and second protagonist Alexander, who was from the city. Set at the turn of the century, they visited each other back and forth and went on many adventures together often getting into trouble and having to solve their way out of a tricky situation. A regularly viewed program growing up in my household; I always loved the contrast between the two settings and the difference in personalities and personal tastes between the two friends.
On the show, Emily was always complaining about her visits to the Alexander. She couldn’t quite understand the allure of the big city with all its bright lights, strange smells and constant noise.
On the other hand, Alexander felt the same about his visits to the country. He turned his nose up at the lack of dining options, travel through rough country road and the smells and noises the country had to offer.
In real life, we have our own stereotypes for how we perceive both country and urban dwellers. Like with Alexander and Emily, we really don’t see eye to eye when it comes to our living preferences. The majority of country folks I know cannot stand the city and visit as little as possible. When they do, it’s not without complaint and they will take to social media to let everyone know about their dreaded commute or contact with the city folk.
And vice versa. Many of my urban friends think the country is nice to visit… once in a while. Maybe for a weekend at the cottage in the summer, but they really don’t get the attraction to ‘living in the middle of nowhere’. Common complaints that everything shuts down early in the evening and there’s no where to go at night, or that you have to drive at least half an hour to get to the nearest shopping center are understandable especially if you’re used to the convenience and availability of amenities nearby.
I’ve enjoyed living in both spaces. I grew up in the actual boonies and took an hour bus ride to school every day. The nearest hamlet (about 15 people give-or-take) had a convenience store and a library, but that was about it. I try to get home at least once a month to get my ‘country-injection’ and regain some sanity. I absolutely love the quiet road I grew up on and the acres upon acres I had to roam free on.
Living in the city hasn’t been terrible either. Not that Guelph is a giant metropolis by any means, but it certainly eclipses the tiny hamlet I grew up in. I love the variety of restaurants and night life options–so many different tastes and cultures available to try out within easy driving distance. There’s also a ton of recreational activities going on throughout the year; volleyball, baseball comedy shows and music festivals.
To be honest, it’d be hard to jump back into rural life right now. As much as I would love more space and a real backyard, the commute to work would be a lot worse and finding something affordable just outside town would be next to impossible.
But I digress, on the show Emily and Alexander always made it clear what kind of place they preferred to live in, but they always respected the others’ preference for its strengths and accepted the flaws. While they were happy to visit and explore all the great things that made each place special, they knew where they really belonged.
Is this possible in real life? Could rural and urban ever get along being as diametrically opposed as they are?
Call me optimistic, but I’d like to think it is possible, but there would have to be a shift in attitudes. For both sides. Urban and rural would have to learn to respect each others differences instead of ridiculing them.
I doubt my country friends will ever enjoy being stuck in traffic in the city, or that my city friends will ever find the country life very fast-paced or exciting, but that doesn’t stop the two from respecting the opposite’s choices for residing where they do.
I love how at the end of every episode, somehow Alex and Emily have solved whatever crazy problem they’ve encountered that day. Be it dogs or cats, or the notorious No-Tail-No-Goodnick, they put their little mice heads together and come up with a solution.
Blending their two perspectives, they can survive anything…it’s like they know something we don’t :).