Life in Dundalk

11:30 AM

Now that life around here has become somewhat normal and has settled into a routine, I often find myself reflecting on the differences of life here in rural Grey County as compared to my former 26 years spent in growing and buzzing Simcoe County. Some of the differences I could foresee, and some have surprised me.

Around a week before moving, I warned Scott to prepare himself for this to be a hard move for me. I just wasn't sure how I would feel and wanted to prepare him to expect me to be sad or emotional for awhile. After all, I was leaving the only city I had ever called very first house as a homeowner...and everything familiar. I always assured people "it's only an hour away!" but had no idea if that hour would feel worlds away, or if I really would still see people and stay connected to life in Barrie. I have always longed for life in the country but, having never actually experienced it, I knew I could find myself disappointed or bored or any other possible emotional outcome. I wanted him to just be sensitive in case I was having a hard time. Regardless, I knew I would get over it and whatever I was about to feel would only be temporary.

So here is my report of what it's like to move the middle of a town no one has heard of: it's amazing!

I obviously love our house. We moved here simply because we had found our dream home. But there are other factors that make this place an absolute dream for me. I know people are asking so I wanted to share some insight as to why I love it so much here.

1) The bugs. Or lack there of. Dundalk is the highest populated elevation in Southern Ontario and is kind of in the clouds. Somehow, we really lucked out and there are hardly any mosquitos. I think i've been bit only a couple times so far this year. I was in Barrie recently and anywhere in the shade, the mosquitos were. Even at 2pm! Here, they come out in small pockets around dusk. But they aren't in swarms...and they really don't seem super hungry. I guess it's all the wild animals? Or because we are so high and they prefer to settle into the valley where it's humid? I dunno but it's ahhhh-mazing. I hope it lasts because this is the only part of summer I usually cannot stand and drives me insane!

2) Back to being in the clouds, storms here are weird. If you know me well, you know I love storms. The clouds here move sooo fast. I know it's a weird observation but as a photographer I observe nature in ways some people don't typically take notice of. The clouds come really low, and many mornings start out really foggy...which again, if you know me, I am OBSESSED with foggy mornings. Scott knows that if it's a really beautiful thick fog and the sun is trying to break through, he HAS to wake me up. I don't care if it's 6AM. The sky is so interesting to watch here...and it's not too humid. There is always a gentle cool breeze, even when it's +30 outside.

3) The night sky. I am obsessed with the night sky. I already knew the stars would be amazing out here, and they are, but I forgot that if the stars are clearer and brighter, the moon would be too. The moon is so bright. It pours in the windows and is so beautiful. I am in love.

4) The quiet. If I open my windows, I hear any of the following: birds, wind in the trees, dogs barking off in the distance (probably mine), car doors closing from people coming and going at the post office, children jumping on a trampoline in the backyard behind ours, or my neighbour across the road playing country music in his shed. Those are the only things I can think of that I ever hear...and usually it's just the birds and light breeze.

5) Having a yard. I could not be MORE excited about my property. I spend so much of my days outside. We have already decided we don't think we will be using the central air this year. Central air sort of confines you to inside, and makes outside feel so much grosser. I hate the way central air makes the inside air feel stale. Since I am usually on the colder side, I hate coming in and bundling up when it's 35 outside. We will play it by ear - if it gets uncomfortable we will turn it on. We have two AC units (haven't actually tested them) so we do potentially have the option to use the AC if we want to. The other awesome thing is that old homes were built to stay cool inside during the summer and our house really does stay cool. The windows face the shaded parts of the yard so that the sun isn't beating in the house all day. Also, because of poor insulation in our attic, all the heat in our house gets sucked up to the third story (sorry Nate!) and out the roof. This is obviously terrible in the winter, but has proven to be awesome for the summer. The first floor is always really cool in temperature. We also are surrounded by trees which give great breezes and shade. So we are really enjoying our yard, and our surroundings. We think that once we get the roof and insulation fixed, we are going to focus our finances and attention on fixing the outside of the house first... AND putting in a pool! ;)

6) Children here seem to still be living out that "lost childhood" that is no longer an option in the city. I see kids out and about all the time and get the impression that they are allowed out without parental supervision. A neighbour told me this town is very kid friendly and that everyone looks out for the kids. She said that she feels very safe letting her grandkids go play outside. When I have kids, I hope it's still like this - that they can go have adventures and be kids like I did as a kid. I want them to know that feeling of exploring without mom looking over their shoulder.

7) The light. As a photographer, I observe light and watch how it changes and moves throughout the house and yard as the sun moves along it's path in the sky. The light in lots of houses is great, I know, but at my previous house, it was more just a constant diffused light quality. In this house, I get really awesome direct light from the sunset, which creates cool shadows and lines in certain rooms of the house. I haven't really done much with my camera yet since moving, but I am excited to start shooting subjects here. There are a lot of cool spots for photos. In the same way that I am waiting to make any big decor decisions until I really feel out a room, it's vibe, and it's purpose, I feel I have put off shooting until I really observe the light and the best spots to shoot...and the moods that the light conveys. Can't wait to get to work!

8) The peace. Yes there is definitely quiet, but there is also a new kind of peace. Every time I go into the city, I feel that peace dissipate and every time I drive back home, I feel it come back. It's a peace that comes from not having an overwhelming list of to-do's. In Barrie, it didn't matter what I was doing, there was always too much to do and not enough time. I felt like my list never ended and I was never fully satisfied that I got enough done. It may sound silly but being an indecisive person, even deciding where to eat at night would stress me out. Too many options doesn't fare well for me.  Here, I have some stuff to do, I do them, and then my day is open to spend time on my lawn, write, entertain company, kick back with drinks and BBQ, or try out new recipes in the kitchen. I don't constantly feel like I am forgetting something. I don't know if that was just me in Barrie, but I could never really relax. Last year, for the first time in my life, I started having anxiety and chest pains. I felt like I couldn't breathe. My business became so stressful and the pressures to keep everything balanced between work, home, relationships, and family was so much and I constantly felt like a failure (in all areas). I feel so much more relaxed here and yet I am not getting less done, in fact I do have a lot more on my plate with this house than the previous one. Time just passes differently out here. I am not rushed. Anxiety is no longer accompanying my tasks. Fresh air, nature, and a peaceful little town have served as the best medicine for me.

9) The community. People are simple and all seem to have a common idea of how life should be lived. The community seems to prefer to invest in recreation and families. We are a small town of 2000, and we have 2 schools, 2 big playgrounds (not including the ones at the schools), a community pool, a baseball diamond, a tennis/basketball court, an arena, a soccer field, a small BMX/skateboarding park, and a whole property dedicated to the Fall Fair, which apparently is huge. People love their's not uncommon at all to see someone riding a Quad down the street. There are tons of trails just outside of town for dirt biking and four wheeling. I picture my kids growing up involved in outdoor activities rather than sitting in front of the TV. I don't judge parents who do that...but for my own family, I want my kids to grow up outside like I did.

10) Money saving by default. We have no where to really blow our money. Haha. Other than the money we are throwing away by Scott commuting with our SUV right now, we are saving so much money by not stopping in for a quick bite to eat somewhere...which happened way too often in our previous life, especially in the summer when cooking seemed horrible and we couldn't BBQ.

And just to add in some balance, here are the challenges of living way out here:

1) Almost hitting animals. I've already JUST missed a raccoon, skunk, and cat while driving on my own. Scott and I almost hit a deer already. I am an animal lover and it seems a matter of time before I run over one. I will certainly bawl.

2) Stores closing early and having the strangest hours. Our little town restaurant changes it's hours like every week, so we never really know if it's open or not. They are closed Mondays and Tuesdays. The only place that seems always open is the Exotic Pet Shop! haha..jk...sort of.

3) Winter. We haven't fully experienced it yet since we only lived through a month of it.....but I am sure it will be a nightmare!

4) Our town needs some investors. The store fronts are out of date. Half the stores aren't even rented, just vacant. It needs some serious TLC. The potential is there, but until things spruce up a bit, our downtown is pretty sad looking. Word on the street is that a few retirement communities are in the works for our town, which will bring more business to the downtown and hopefully create more township funds to put money back into fixing up the town!

5) If we need anything that can't be bought at Foodland, the convenience store, or Home Hardware, we have a 15-30 minute drive to go seek out said item. This results in us putting off buying things until we are in Barrie which works b/c we are in Barrie twice a week still...but makes a shopping list always accompany our Barrie visits.

So those are my only complaints. The good definitely far outweighs the bad. We are so happy with our decision to move here and are really enjoying it! Thanks to everyone who follows along with our adventure!

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