Trina Hanson was taking a break in her Calgary office, checking the weather on her phone. “Great,” she thought. “Minus 30 and drifting snow for Friday.”
It was only Tuesday, but Trina was already dreading the eight-hour drive home to the farm for the weekend. She’d been making the trip from Alberta to southeast Saskatchewan fairly regularly for the last year and a half, since she’d started dating Ryan, an organic farmer who lived near her family’s farm. It was harder for Ryan to get away, he worked most weekends at a local ag dealership, and when he did have time off he wasn’t wild about staying in her city condo. So Trina did most of the driving and usually headed east on the No. 1 when she had a three-day weekend.
In the summer she liked the drive. Even in the winter she usually didn’t mind. But nobody wanted to be stuck on the highway in a Prairie blizzard.
Trina looked up when her co-worker and friend, Sarah, came in from down the hall.
“Checking the weather for another weekend trek to the homestead?” Sarah asked. Trina blushed, caught.
“I was planning to, Trina sighed. “But the forecast looks nasty.”
“Stay here,” Sarah said. “My boyfriend’s having a party on Friday. And we can finally go skiing on Saturday.”
“I don’t know,” Trina said. “Isn’t it going to be kind of cold for skiing?”
Trina was getting used to finding new ways to say “no” to her Calgary friends so she could spend time with Ryan. She didn’t really have time to enjoy herself in either place.
Something was going to have to change.
“I know,” Sarah said. “You want to spend time with Ryan. Maybe you should marry him already. You’re not making the most of single life, anyway.”
Ryan hadn’t asked her to marry him, or even move in, but Trina had been giving it a lot of thought. She loved being in Saskatchewan. She went to her nephew’s hockey games (if what the under-five team was doing could be called “hockey”) and it was fun watching her little niece learn how to talk. She liked her sister-in-law, and spending time with her parents and brother. This arrangement was great for weekends and holidays, but could it work full time?
First, she’d need a job. Ryan’s family farm wasn’t big enough to support Ryan full time. And even if she wasn’t on the payroll, she wasn’t sure Ryan’s father would need or want her around the farm every day.
Trina was still a part of her own family farm, if “part” could be defined as having a small share in the corporation and collecting some annual dividends. But she was pretty sure her brother Jeff wasn’t interested in sharing the day-to-day decision-making. So even if there was some way the Hansons could give her a job, wouldn’t she be just another farm hand, reporting to her brother? Trina wasn’t sure that would be a long-term plan for a happy family.
There were other possibilities. Jobs in Weyburn, or one of the local ag businesses. She knew some people who worked from home. But… Trina looked past Sarah and out her office window. She didn’t work in downtown Calgary, but she could see the skyline from her office. Skiing wasn’t her thing, but she did like all the restaurants and concerts, even though she couldn’t enjoy them much with her schedule.
“I get it,” Sarah said, watching Trina’s eyes. “You don’t want to give up city life. But you’ve got the worst of both worlds now! You’re missing everything here, but you don’t spend enough time with Ryan to live there either.”
Ryan lived in an old house in his parents’ farmyard. Trina didn’t want to move back in with her parents, but she wasn’t sure she was ready to move in with Ryan.
“Now you’re upset,” Sarah said. “I didn’t mean to start anything. This is about your organic father-in-law again. I’ll get back to work before you’re mad at me.”
Sarah had heard Trina’s side of this problem a thousand times, but Trina still didn’t think her friend understood this insurmountable problem. Ryan’s parents hoped he would find someone else. Ryan’s father especially. He couldn’t stop himself from making comments about the amount of insecticide Trina’s brother used on his farm (“just enough to kill harmful insects,” Trina thought to herself), or worse, he asked about how Trina could sleep at night when she had a job with a chemical company.
“Don’t take it personally,” Sarah had advised. Trina knew this was good advice, but it was hard to follow. She wondered what would happen if she and Ryan had kids. Now she understood why people said it was hard for parents from different religions to raise children.
Organic or not, if she stayed with Ryan, they could raise their children on a farm, and give them the sort of childhood that she’d had. She didn’t know the first thing about bringing up children in the city. “How do you know what school they’d go to?” she wondered. “Would there even be a bus? What if you didn’t know all of their friends’ parents? Would the kids trick-or-treat at strangers’ houses on Halloween?”
She had a good salary. Her kids would have lots of opportunities if she stayed with her career. But it would be hard for them to ever get back to a farm. She would be the first generation in her family to leave the farm for good since… she didn’t even know when. Maybe forever. Sure, she had a job with an agricultural company. But that wouldn’t mean much to her future children. They wouldn’t have any tie to the Hanson farm, or to any land anywhere at all.
Then her computer beeped with incoming emails, so Trina took a slurp of coffee and turned back to her desk.
The third email on the monitor was from her boss. “Trina,” it read, “there’s a job opportunity coming up in our research office down in Raleigh-Durham. I think you would be a good fit, and they said they’d be happy to talk to you about it if you could get there for Friday afternoon.”
This was a curve she wasn’t expecting. Since she had the weather app still open on her phone she checked. Average temperatures of 13° in February? She kept reading.
“While you’re down there stay an extra day,” Trina’s boss wrote. “Check out the sights. See if you like the place.”
Trina already knew some of her co-workers in North Carolina, and two of her university friends worked for other companies in the Research Triangle. She would probably get a raise. No more eight-hour drives. No more blizzards.
She would miss her niece and nephew. And the rest of her family. Then she looked down at the small photo of Ryan she kept on the side of her desk.
Trina turned back to her computer screen and picked up her mouse. She clicked her way to a travel website to book a flight that would get her to Raleigh-Durham in time for the Friday meeting.
Leeann Minogue is the editor of Grainews, a playwright and part of a family grain farm in southeastern Saskatchewan.