“Why New Brunswick?” is a question I’ve been asked by two individuals who are from there (which statistically is pretty remarkable, considering that on another continent I’ve met not two but three people from a province of well under a million people). The answer is fairly simple, but I’m long-winded, so get comfortable.
“Why New Brunswick?”
Ocean. The Czech Republic is a land-locked nation. Every summer, citizens pile in their cars and drive ten hours south to Croatia for their saltwater kicks. The rich ones fly or simply bypass the rest of us mongrels to delight on the sunny islands of the Mediterranean (something that I learned when, on a cloudy Bohemian day, a four-year-old student of mine informed me that her Crayon drawing of palm trees and sunshine was not of her home in Prague, but the one “in Majorca, stupid”). After a combined 16 years of living without any massive bodies of water, Jodi and I placed ocean, sea, or Great Lake locations at the top our list.
Proximity. Flying a dozen hours on two-to-three international planes is a pain in the ass. Like, literally. While business class passengers are given heated towels to dab away the stress of spacious seating and personal slaves, the barbarians in economy are left to stew in their own pungence as their sciatic nerves, like screeching newborns, find voice in their sudden discomfort. It’s also obscenely expensive. We wanted to settle some place relatively near Ontario, Texas, and the mosaic of European cultures that we’re leaving behind. What’s more, Jodi’s sister and family are newly transplanted there, and they’ll only be a short drive away. New Brunswick just made sense.
Affordability. I can’t say that any of these criteria are more critical than the other, but cost is a massively influential factor. We could have decided on the sexy British Columbian West Coast, but doing so would mean the difference between outright ownership and indentured service to a bank. We’ll never be rich as farmers, and that’s perfectly fine, but struggling to make ends meet every month? We may as well pull up our bootstraps, ignore any medical issues that may arise, and then get shot in Baltimore. The idea of building a future somewhere only to have it taken away by bankers or bureaucrats is maybe the only fear left in my heart. And it’s American. The New Brunswick economy is consistently not great, but if we’re frugal and a have winter-income contingency plan, which we do, I think we can safely allow ourselves to imagine Wonkaland . . . without all the psychedelics or child disfigurement/killings.
Friends, Jodi and I are moving to New Brunswick, Canada. We’ll be there at the beginning of April or in early March to apprentice with the good people at Ferme Alva Farm. “Ferme” en français est “farm” in English, which might sound redundant, but New Brunswick is a bilingual province (the only official one in fact). That’s right. We’re headed to the Maritimes to scoop up some land and make lovely the Earth.
It’ll be a small gig, three acres for farming and some light animal husbandry, but we hope to pick up about 10 acres in total, maybe more. We’ve got a solid business plan; pretty decent (academic) knowledge of agriculture, which is really more like agricultural science; and a concentrated focus on not starving to death.
“Ferme” en français est “farm” in English.
There are many, many reasons to make the change. Living in Prague, the hub of Central Europe has been . . . informative, and we are grateful for the years we’ve been here. Jodi’s spent more of her adult life in the Czech Republic than she has in her native Ontario. We’ve started businesses here, networked internationally here, found financial freedom here, and we have enjoyed a very comfortable living simply by tapping the unearned social and economic celebrity of speaking English. Here.
But for what? Our hobbies are enjoyable, but shortsighted. Jodi’s become a dedicated runner and an impressively self-taught crocheter. I’ve been writing stories and books and illustrating comics for longer than I care to recall. We drink more wine than we should. We watch too much Netflix. We spend way too much money on Thai and Indian food. Counting how often we’ve danced until the sun came up then staggered home is startlingly beyond the capacity of ten fingers and toes. How can I complain? Our time in Prague has been a series of indulgences. Such spoils, however, have come to beautifully represent the human condition in which we all suffer. We’ve grown fat and sloppy splashing around in an excess that is no longer fulfilling or even satisfactory. The grey season in Prague is long and for too long have both Jodi and I (and tragically, our cats) paced our comfortable apartment with a troubling discontent that neither food nor drink nor social pleasures can soothe. We’re childless. We don’t own property. We don’t employ anyone. Karmically speaking, our contribution to humanity is almost certainly in the negative numbers if one considers and can measure the consumption that is required to sustain our indifference.
I easily left the United States because, among other reasons, I was hopeless and dangerously angry. All the time. Years abroad have thankfully untied those distressing knots. How? I finally grasped that I can’t change a damned thing. Some people can. I’m not a cynic, but he or she must be in the right place, at the right time, with the right message. My personal philosophy on what is “right” is a message that I have failed to effectively articulate. So, we have decided to take our freedom and the little hobbies that pass the hours away and point them in the direction of a larger project: We want to effect change by doing. More on that in subsequent posts . . . .
One might look upon this website representing a yet-to-be-established business as grandiose, and normally, I’d agree, but this site is definitely a horse before the cart strategy, and I can positively assure you that what you see is only the surface of our pomp. I’m goddamned fabulous, but I can’t be if we’re working long hours while learning a totally new industry, buying land, submitting permits, creating internal documents, blah, blah, blah. So here we sit in Prague, hastening our many ducks to row.
Our plane flies for Toronto on the 28th of February, then two weeks in Texas, then back to Ontario, then a long drive to the East Coast.
There. Now you’re informed. There’s a thingy on the right side of your screen if you want to receive notifications when we post a new essay. Please do.