This is a column I wrote several years ago, but as Christmas shopping season is upon us, it bears repeating.
There are two lanes in most highways.
Obvious, I know!
But how easily we forget.
Just last week, I could have sworn on the deer I nearly ran into that all highways in rural Saskatchewan are one-way.
Seems like I’m always headed ‘out’ of town on some mission. It might be with a trunk full of cans for recycling. It could be with a kid who needs a tooth filled. Or perhaps I’m in search of over-priced horse treats for my spoiled equine.
It’s impossible for all of our small towns to have everything we need. But that’s when I started thinking about the other lane in the highway. What if that east-bound thoroughfare was used as much as I’ve been using the west-bound, urban-destined lane?
The nearest city certainly has everything I could ever want…and much, much more. My last Superstore bill listing brie cheese, a pair of ‘breathable’ socks and a bottle of green olive tapenade is proof enough of that.
But when you start to take account of it all (leaving the aisles of cheese and vats of olives out of your mind for a moment), you see that our rural communities have a lot to offer too.
Maybe it’s on a smaller scale? Maybe the selection isn’t as wide, or as deep? Maybe the goods aren’t piled as high or found on as many wooden pallets? But, then again, maybe I don’t need a 32-oz container of cayenne pepper, a case of mangoes or a flour-sack-sized bag of pecans to make this Christmas season complete?
Maybe I just need a few litres of milk, some locally-made bread and a couple of cans of salmon (I could live on that for days – I’m thinking I might have a future on Survivor?).
But as I think of our small towns, there’s so much more. In mine alone, I can get milk, bread, salmon AND … designer dresses, sweet potato fries, environmentally friendly footwear, the latest iphone, bubble bath, Play-Doh, not to mention farm-fresh eggs, chicken, beef and bison.
And in other small towns in the province, I know you’ll find ‘Jones New York’ suits, ‘Adidas’ runners, authentic Mexican cuisine, ‘Silver’ jeans and ‘Diesel’ shirts, art by renowned local painters, leather sofas and an endless assortment of locally produced goods from Saskatoon berry chocolates to honey mustard spread and garlic-infused camelina oil (visit http://www.saskmade.ca/shop for more local products than you ever imagined).
So if you’re thinking at all of using the other lane some time this Christmas season, please be aware that if you do, you’ll not only find all of these goods and less traffic, but you’ll find rural hospitality and service that won’t leave you lined up at ‘customer service’ (which might be more aptly named ‘wait-for service’).
I’m not going to give up my urban trips anytime soon (after all, how could I possibly survive without my wheel of brie and my breathable socks?!).
But if you’re starting to think that all roads destined toward designer brands and unique goods end with a city, I’d just like you to think again.
Email comments to LCfroese@sasktel.net and follow Christalee Froese’s Blog at 21days2joy.wordpress.com