Having worked hard, we must continue to work hard. To not repeat the struggles is to admit defeat.
This is the rural philosophy. Our past struggles become noble as we move further away from them and to repeat them is to persist: against impossible odds that no one is keeping track of, against snow, against everything. Since we cannot progress, through repetition we become ennobled experts in getting by. Sit quietly in any roadside diner along any small highway in Ontario and you’ll hear people speak proudly of sacrifice and near-failures that are, likely, actual failures. That’s how we survive.
From that struggle comes a deep desire to find meaning and beauty, here in what Purdy calls “the country of our defeat.” Canada’s rural poor (and even some of its rural rich) make condolences to ourselves. Where something must be fought for, failure is an abstract; success is fleeting and seasonal, and so the only true success comes with good, old-fashioned hard work. The pain in our lower back is rewarded by the way the corn looks blowing in a certain warm wind; the furrowing in autumn made worthwhile when we spot a distant smattering of colour in the valleys (and by the whisky stashed away in a drawer in the barn, or kitchen, or desk, or dresser).
- Drew Gough, discussing Al Purdy, the A-frame, and the country north of Belleville in his essay "Looking for Al Purdy" over at Maissoneuve. You can read the whole thing here.
And speaking of Purdy, get ready Vancouver...