Ross Murray: Am I a tree or a weed?

Ross Murray: Am I a tree or a weed?

LiQ_Mag_Abonnez-vousEarly in October, I was standing around watching some high school students working in the local community garden. The students had been assigned to pull up all the dead plants, which made me think about indentured service, but it also made me think about roots, specifically my roots in this province.

I’ve just celebrated my 24th anniversary in Quebec. If Quebec and I were married, the etiquette guides say we should be marking the occasion by giving each other musical instruments. And then I might make a speech, like: “Even though it’s hard to keep the magic alive, and even though you drive me crazy most of the time, I still love you, Quebec. And you still make me horny – in a purely musical instrument kind of way, of course!”

I’ve established roots in Quebec. This is where I got married and raised a family. It’s where I’ve built my career. It’s where I learned that just because you can buy beer and wine until 11 p.m. doesn’t mean you should.

But every now and then – usually when the political climate turns nasty, as it seems to with cyclical predictability – I wonder what’s keeping us here. Answers include our jobs, not wanting to uproot the kids, our daughter’s well-served medical needs, not to mention that most irresistible of forces, inertia. There’s simply nothing calling me away. Believe it or not, there’s no great shortage in the rest of Canada for middle-aged, moderately educated white guys who think they’re kind of funny. So, we stay put.

What if something did come up, though? Say we had a chance to peddle pogo sticks in Penticton, would we jump at the chance? Just how deep are the roots that hold us here?

Am I tree? Do I hold tight to the land, anchoring my family here, unperturbed by fickle winds and the occasional squirrelly behaviour? Do I drink a lot? Do I creep into the neighbour’s yard without their knowledge?

Or am I a weed, established here by chance and barely clinging to the surface of things? Do I exist without purpose? Do I make some people sick?

Then again, I might be a spring perennial: reliable, low maintenance, kept in the dark, dormant most of the winter, somewhat bulbous, not going anywhere unless the dog digs me up.

Perhaps I’m a pansy. No, forget that…

Maybe I’m a tomato plant: the roots may be shallow but they’re well established, striving to bear fruit, though there are a lot of suckers along the way. And though my time may pass when the seasons change, I’ll have left my mark, because tomatoes stain like a son-of-a-bitch.

Those students I was watching were pulling up tomato plants. One girl tried yanking four or five out of the ground at a time, grabbing an armload of stocks and hauling with all her might. One at a time, she might have pulled them out, but all together? They weren’t going anywhere.

One at a time, anglos might leave the province. And this thought strikes fear in the hearts of many in the English community, who worry that we’re living through the Quebec version of It’s a Wonderful Life: every time a nationalist bell rings, an anglo packs his things.

But it’s usually something strong and individual that uproots them – family demands, a new job, international espionage. The English community as a whole, on the other hand, is really pretty solid, solid enough that systematic political tugging is unlikely to budge them at all. Together, we’re stronger.

As for me, I have no plans to leave the province. My roots are pretty well established by now, what with all the fertilizer. I’m sure this will be good news to some people, not because they love me but because I owe them a lot of money.

Categories: News, Opinion

About Author

Ross Murray

Ross Murray is an award-winning humorist and radio contributor and the author of two books ‘You’re Not Going to Eat That, Are You?’ and ‘Don’t Everyone Jump at Once’. Raised in Nova Scotia, Ross has lived in the Eastern Townships of Quebec since the early 1990’s with his wife Debbie, four children and far too many pets. After all this time, Ross feels comfortable calling himself a Townshipper; his neighbours call him something else.

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