Country living

Having lived in small town rural Ontario for about the past 50 years there are discernible marks of my progressive abstraction from the urban landscape. Many of the customs of my earlier days in the City no longer persist. The most evident amendment is the exponentially decreased frequency of retail shopping in the City. This naturally is a small compliment. Unabashedly and in view of my advanced age of three-quarters a century, I have by now surpassed just about every possible limit of relevant commerical consumption. There is little apart from steel cut oats and Honey Crisp apples (both of which can be locally sourced) that any longer propels my appetite or interest. The same goes for grand pianos and complex wrist watches. We haven’t room for a large harp; and Apple Watch does it all. Jewellery and fine apparel are right out!  I have given up looking like a Jewish widow; and a Bonnie Prince Charlie waistcoat isn’t handsomely tailored for one of my girth. As lately as yesterday we agreed black and white are the simplest and best costumes; all else borders upon vulgarity. Though I might preserve the value of a silk scarf just to avoid complete frugality.

Amusingly – and quite unwittingly – the precise point of withdrawal from the urban scene was exemplified today. But not before my alarm awoke me at 6:30 am this morning. This I confess is wildly uncommon.  A more telling account of my customary matutinal habits would hover about 10:00 am. But today I had an early morning (9:00 am) appointment with a car salesman on St. Laurent Blvd which is at the east end of Ottawa, the furthest possible from where I am resident. Nor was the traffic – even at that early hour of the day – less beastly than I had anticipated. While I did in fact arrive on home base before the appointed hour, I wasn’t early by more than a comfort zone. In any event what ensued during our meeting was that my proposal (admittedly out of the ordinary) was politely dismissed or declined.  It wasn’t that we were bickering about prices.  Indeed we never made it that far.  The gentleman suggested that it was in my best interests to withhold my consumption for a more propitious date; namely, 2024 when the latest models for 2025 are being touted. I thanked the gentleman for his concern though I couldn’t help but detect an undertone of something less charitable and more commercially motivated. However I put it off as a concern about delay arising from the current UAW strikes; and, I wasn’t about to expend unwarranted time upon the existential examination of his altruistic components.  Nor similarly had I any keenness about overcoming his expressed economic opinion.  I departed the showroom with a fond word of gratitude; and, when I got inside my car, a puff of wind.

The more inspiring consequence of this extraordinarily early rendezvous was that it heightened my impending resolve to curtail my erstwhile acquaintance with the urban dealerships; and, to revert instead to one or the other of the dealerships located in the Town of Arnrprior in Renfrew County or the Town of Smiths Falls in the County of Lanark.

Smiths Falls was incorporated first as a village in 1854, and then as a town in 1882. It is named after Thomas Smyth, a United Empire Loyalist who in 1786 was granted 400 acres (1.6 km2) in what is present-day Smiths Falls. The Heritage House Museum (c. 1862), also known as the Ward House, was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1977. In about 1920 the town council voted to change the name from Smith’s Falls to Smiths Falls, and this spelling entered general use, but in 1967 the Ontario Municipal Board stated that it was not official and the town’s legal documents must use the spelling Smith’s Falls found in the 1882 order-in-council of incorporation. The town then applied to the provincial government for an official change to Smiths Falls, and in 1968 the legislature granted the change by private bill.

In fairness I am heartily reluctant to depart from my current model which I find stimulates me unremittingly. But in the meantime I sense the transition from city to country, an evolution which erases over 35 years of prior vehicular retail dedication. The other matter of note is that, like my late father, my preoccupation with the newest and the latest models has noticeably been diluted by my commensurate aging process. My father drove an ancient Buick Riviera to the day until he plowed into the garage entry pillar.  Happily the buggy was purchased by a chap who formerly worked for our landscaper in Almonte.  As far as I know the machine had many further years of use.

To continue this particular thread, upon returning home from the City this morning I commisserated by telephone with my partner about the perils of city traffic and the egregious manner in which I had gained my exit from the inner bowels of the city. We agreed in a flash and in our usual cooperative manner to drop into a local eatery in nearby Carleton Place (another country resort). By chance the diner was one which we had, about thirty years ago, frequented in the ByWard Market where we maintained a condominium at the time. At lunch today we chatted with a woman who coincidentally was seated with her friend immediately adjacent us in the next booth and who had locally handled the professional framing of most of our works of art and photographs in both our home and the office. As I remarked at the time, some of my earliest framing had been conducted on Sussex Drive in Ottawa but I soon learned that the talent of the local framing retailers (there were more than one) were unquestionably equal and in many instances superlative.

Parenthetically as we were driving from the restaurant we encountered a former funeral director from Almonte.  He preceded his long overdue confab with us by making a quip, a suitable country manner of initiating casual communication. I informed him we had been following his recent undertakings (pardon the pun) by having gained the intelligence communicated to us by my erstwhile physician from  their mutual exploits on the golf course. The serendipitous harmony of our rural community is inexpressible!

Following this expedition, and before returning home, we thought to drop into the showroom of a local hardwood furniture store. Although I am not unaccustomed to seeing fine furniture made of various veneers, I have always preferred solid hardwoods.  The products for sale at this store in Carleton Place are all of that nature, some made in North Carolina but others made in Canada (all à la carte with a normal waiting period of up to six months). On a whim I addressed the sales consultant about an immediate purchase and removal from the showroom floor, something they don’t normally do but which I had correctly anticipated as a possibility today.

Upon delivery of our new stick of furniture to the apartment I immediately directed myself in my car to Halo Car Wash™ in Stittsville, the one feature of near-urban status which remains unmatched in the country. The excellence of the wash, the pleasantness of the staff and the utility of the vacuums and electric mat washers make this particular retail option unparalleled in the country. I make no further apology.

Finally upon return home, having reinvigorated myself and my favourite automobile, I was suddenly overtaken by a desire to visit the Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers Limited to investigate their collection of model farm animals some of which I already own.

Breyer Animal Creations® began as the Breyer Molding Company, a Chicago-based plastics manufacturer. Its first model horse, the # 57 Western Horse, made its appearance in 1950. It was a special order for the F.W. Woolworth Company, made to adorn a mantelpiece clock. Breyer was flooded with requests from people who wanted to know if they could purchase just the horse! With that first horse, the Breyer Molding Company had changed the focus of its business forever!

Reeves International, Inc is a New Jersey corporation, founded by Swiss entrepreneur Werner J. Fleischmann in 1946. Reeves entered the toy industry as the U.S. distributor of fine European toys and collectibles to the “carriage trade” – that is, toy specialty stores and fine department stores. Top brands such as Stieff, Corgi and Britains were staples of the Reeves International portfolio.

Though I was unable to secure a model of a swan (editions of which I had previously bought but given away as gifts), I did however find a bull, a fox, a chicken, a duck and a cow. These now ornament a small section of the bookcase in the study.