The Myth of “Living the Dream” in the Country: The Northern Ontario Experience.
PEACE AND QUIET:
For most people considering a move to the country, peace means SECURITY—worry free living. You can leave your door open. You will be moving to a place where neighbours get together to help each other out, just like “the olden days” of barn-raisings and quilting bees. Right?
There was a reason that EVERYONE CARRIED A GUN BACK IN THOSE DAYS. Some guns were actually named: Peace Maker. Back then, just as today, about 33% of the people you met were good people who would help their neighbor. Unfortunately the other 66% are people you must keep an eye on. 33% are out to screw you over. The remaining 33% are either indifferent or could waffle from one side to the other on any given day.
If you think there is no crime or less crime in the country, THINK AGAIN!
You are moving to the POT GROWING CAPITAL OF ONTARIO which means organized crime. While exploring trails on your ATV, you may cross paths with a biker-type carrying an automatic weapon. When he tells you: “You should not be here.”, LISTEN TO HIM and go back the way you came—QUICKLY!
Add to this the local teens with little to do to kill the boredom, who will get drunk, high, or both, and come up with some really bad ideas as to how to keep the party going.
Lastly is the saddest group, the alcoholics, drug addicts, sociopaths and schizophrenics displaced by cut-backs to the Ontario health system. They too are here for low-cost living. THEY ARE YOUR NEW NEIGHBOURS. They are easily managed if you BUY A GUN AND FIRE IT OFTEN to make them think twice.
The “QUIET” will make up for these other minor negative points, so long as your idea of quiet includes logging trucks that literally shake the place when they go down a nearby highway, chainsaws and gunshots just like in The Red Green Show, ATV’s every weekend for 8 MONTHS, snowmobiles the other 4 MONTHS, plus heavy power boat traffic for 2 MONTHS, and the never ending over-flights of commercial, military, and police aircraft THAT WERE NOT THERE TWENTY YEARS AGO. Oh yeah, do not forget your neighbour who is building a mansion with diesel powered heavy equipment.
FRESH AIR AND SUNSHINE IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS:
If by “fresh” you mean COLD, then yes. Northern Ontario has some of the freshest air short of the Arctic Circle because THAT IS WHERE MOST OF OUR AIR COMES FROM.
The winter of 2013-14 was horrible everywhere in the province, but here are some statistics from my area:
- In each of the 8 months beginning in October and including April, it snowed.
- In that same period, the temperatures NEVER HIT POSITIVE DOUBLE DIGITS. In other words +10C or 50F was not seen for an 8 month period.
- For 4 consecutive months the temperatures NEVER WENT ABOVE FREEZING.
- For that same period the typical night-time temperatures were -20C to -40C or -40F (they are the same at that point on the scales).
For most of 6 months, “dressing up” meant putting on your “good” long-underwear and snow pants.
Sunshine happened occasionally for 30 minutes a day, if you were lucky, and you may have had to travel to see it. In winter sunshine comes with a price. Clear skies often mean extreme cold. There were entire weeks that went by without seeing the sun. A favourite joke when it did come out was “What is that fireball in the sky?” SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) runs rampant without the sun and its natural vitamin D production. In December you will get four hours of sunlight, if you are lucky, and you will not want to be outside. “Feel the burn” is usually a phrase associated with a work-out, but here it means frostbite or sunburn due to the giant hole in the ozone layer overhead.
BEING SURROUNDED BY NATURE:
The fantasy of having rabbits, foxes, and deer playing in your yard was my reality. So was the more disturbing unwanted less cute critters like bears, wolves, fishers, skunks, raccoons, snakes, and what some people thought was a cougar.
YOUR FANTASY OF RUNNING NAKED THROUGH THE FOREST MIGHT GET YOU KILLED BY NATURE.
Being surrounded by nature means GOOD HUNTING: BUG SEASON is open all year round!
Black fly season begins as soon as the snow melts and lasts for 2 TO 3 MONTHS! For those not familiar, this is a CARNIVORE about the size of a flea that does not like their homes being disturbed by anything; especially raking. A distant relative of the piranha fish, they will attack in great numbers and devour ANY EXPOSED FLESH. Working outdoors means covering up or using massive quantities of CANCER CAUSING AGENTS a.k.a. bug spray to keep just some of them away. Locals like to make black fly season even scarier to tourists by making jokes like: “The black flies are so big this year I just saw one humping a partridge.”
Some years you will be given a choice between bleeding bites from black flies and lumps from the West Nile Virus carrying mosquitoes. Mosquito season can last for 5 MONTHS and it begins with the heat of summer that will kill off most of the black flies. However, the mosquitos will only be killed off by cold.
In July, the mosquito will be joined by other man-eating species like deer flies and horse flies. Deer flies are about the size of a house fly, but they are a fast delta-winged biter that lives in wooded areas.
The horse fly likes, you guessed it, horses, but have now adapted to eat other mammals as horses are not as common as they once were. Horse flies appear as an over-sized house fly until he takes a chunk out of you. They are relatively slow which means you can often swat them with your hand. They do not drown easily and yes, I have done this experiment. The horse fly loves a sunny day at the beach, especially when humans are on the lunch menu. If you want a high kill ratio, then wait until they start to bite before swatting. Like a human eating a good steak, they are savouring the taste of your meat, and are not paying attention.
Dragon flies, bees and butterflies are often COLLATERAL DAMAGE when using insecticides. Though they are beneficial, sometimes they are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I never used these products as a camper, but once you live in the woods fulltime, your views on environmental impact change.
Just there to piss you off are June bugs, moths and ants. Enjoy the hunt and the kill. FYI: moth season is open year-round as somehow they will last into December when all the others have died or are in a cryogenic sleep.
Spiders, ants, and house flies are available for hunting year-round without having to go outside.
The stinging varieties are many:
Wasps, especially ground wasps that nest under rotting logs, hornets and yellow jackets are like ISIS members: TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY. It is them or us. In late summer or early fall, many of the stingers cannot cope with the idea their lives are about to end so they act insanely and commit suicide by attacking you for no reason . . . the suicide bombers of the insect world.
Enjoy your week. I have to go kill something.
Blogus Interruptus… continued next week.