Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The New Meaning of "Rural Roots"

(First published in the December 7 issue of The Oxford Journal)

My hair stylist is an expert on all things country. She knows that free-range hens lay eggs with dark yellow yolks. She knows that ospreys only eat fish and fly south for the winter. She knows not to go hunting on Sunday.
She knows these things now. Six months ago, Jessica didn’t know nothin’ about living in the country. That’s because she lives in Halifax and works at a downtown salon. She looks and sounds and smells like a city girl (I should know; I once was one). I met her in July and bless her heart, she didn’t laugh at her new client who talked about chickens laying green-shelled eggs and needing to learn to shoot a gun, and working for a community newspaper that publishes weekly.
Although, now that I think about it, she might have checked me for ticks. 
Twenty years ago, I would have been self-conscious about being a hayseed in the city. Back then, I wanted to get out of my small town as quick as possible and make my mark on the world in a bigger place. By the time I ended up living in downtown Vancouver, however, I was starting to fantasize about a house on a country road instead of a fourth-floor condo, about fields and hills instead of mountains, about miles and miles of empty highway instead of rush hour traffic at three in the afternoon. All on the opposite coast. 
When you’re a hayseed at heart, it’s only a matter of time before you end up living  on a rural route  with a coop full of chickens and your very own .22 in the gun cabinet. 
“I didn’t know you couldn’t hunt on  Sundays,” Jessica said at our most recent appointment. 
I laughed. “Why would you know that?”
“That’s true.” 
She snipped for a bit then said, “I can’t wait to go out with my friends and tell them that!”
This is how Jessica earns her tip: she seems genuinely interested in hearing about the unique personalities of each of my chickens. She certainly expressed the proper sympathy when my story about Betty, our pet chicken, ended in tragedy. And when I brought her half a dozen eggs, not only did she not blink when I told her there were only six because half the flock is molting and not laying eggs, she was tickled by the two green-shelled eggs. 
“I can’t believe you don’t have to put these in the fridge,” she said after I’d explained why she didn’t have to worry about them being warm while she worked. 
It’s nice, you know, when you can educate those city people and help at least one get in touch with her inner hayseed. If only to impress her friends. 

by Sara Mattinson


  1. So pleased you have this job and blog column. Have been way too busy, in a good way, and now hope to have enough time to read your weekly entries. Good writing. Linda

  2. I know the feeling! This week, we're putting together 2 issues since we have next week off. Almost feels like a daily paper around here today. I will write more on this blog once the holidays are over and life returns to normal.