As a kid, I never liked the story The Country Mouse and the City Mouse. It didn't appeal to my sensibilities, I suppose, because I could never identify with it. Growing up in an isolated community in northern Alberta with a population just big enough to barely be considered a city, I didn't understand the polar personalities juxtaposed in the classic children's book. I was neither a Country Mouse or a City Mouse.
It's the age-honoured North American coming-of-age story told time and time again through literature, movies, reality television series and bible stories. As twenty-somethings, we seek our adulthood through an escape from familiar surroundings. We laugh at the comedies featuring city folk in the country, floundering their way through manure, and at the country folk and their fashion mishaps in their first weeks in their new college dorms. We can see ourselves in these characters, one way or the other, and identify with their misunderstandings at the other way of life. The Country Mice head to the city, and the City Mice try to find a way back to nature.
We're perpetually living stereotypes, a la Pauly Shore in the Son in Law.
Right now, I'm in Vancouver, blending seamlessly into the sidewalk masses as I navigate easily through the perpetual oncoming barrage of umbrellas and raindrops. Alex, the City Mouse who moved to a Country City, is here for a conference. I tagged along to visit family and indulge in all the vegetarian food the West Coast has to offer.
These City Ducklings didn't flinch when I leaned in to take their picture. I could nearly envision their tuxedos and monocles. They weren't the type to wear overalls and hold straw in their beaks.
While Alex is awed by mountains, I'm awed by the timelessness of the trees, of their superiority over us. Upturned by last year's windstorms, they still continue to grow, their roots sucking up the moisture of the B.C. rainforest, and their limbs covered in ivy and ferns, sprouting new green buds of life.
Winding down the trails, we ended up at the Vancouver Aquarium, where Andrew plotted to steal a basilisk, and I nurtured my misanthropic tendancies as I watched hoards of tourists with screaming children take pictures with flash.
When we started walking back to my hotel, the sun burst through the clouds and the rain stopped, nothing less than miraculously. The forecast had predicted 25-30 mm of rain in 3 days, alone.
In two days, it's back to the country again. I don't want to leave quite yet, but I know that I'll still relish in my country life, even if I don't own a proper pair of coveralls or stick straw between my teeth.