By Tannis Kelm

Growing up, I was surrounded by nature. Moosehorn, Man. had quiet days and nights where the light pollution still wasn’t bright enough to block out the stars.

Here’s the point where someone may think we were missing out in our small town. We had two television channels, no movie theatres, no malls and needed a license to visit friends out of town.

What we did have were these great gravel roads, lined with wild flowers, to bike on with no threat of cars. Bush trails groomed where you could hop on an ATV or snowmobile, depending on the season, and end up at someone’s shack tangled in wood smoke that made the food that much better.

Lakes and vacant quarries to swim in or gather late at night to party around a fire. The Manitoba social was also at its peak, spread out along the number 6 highway for us if someone had a car and was willing to drive. At 16 years old, you’re almost always willing to drive.

An hour’s drive past fields and small towns is like a bus ride across the city, except you can stay as long as you want and take the backroads home.

I had a special relationship with my friends in this shared adventure. There weren’t too many nights we stayed inside when nature cooperated. If the place you met up was out of town, you could be as loud as you wanted for as long as it lasted.

If there wasn’t a social going on, we were on our landlines finding out where everyone was, grabbing a case and driving down the back roads, picking up whoever needed a ride along the way.

I hear stories about how hard high school can be to make friends, but there wasn’t much exclusion in my classes. Everyone had a group and those groups got along. Everyone knew everyone else and there weren’t as many distractions to separate us.

All that fresh air must be a contributing factor to our relaxed states; no extra sounds and sirens, no rush. I’m glad I got to grow up there. It grounds me when everything else takes me away.

Some of us moved to the city and some stayed. Others moved to small towns closer than our two hour drive to Winnipeg. Those who can work a trade or find an opportunity within a local business have the pleasure of country living. It’s like going to the cottage, you just have to drive a bit further to get to the water.

Once I reached high school graduation, I had that decision: university or co-op. Jobs are limited for a girl who just wants to be a singer, so I needed an education. I left the community that always made me feel like I was contributing something new, to live somewhere everyone could do what I was doing, with all the connections I didn’t have.

I love the city just as much. The music scene in Winnipeg always steps outside, so I don’t want for the fresh air too much. I’m a regular at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and take the opportunity to camp as much as possible.

I believe the more we connect with the earth and it’s natural beauty, the less stress we carry. Nature doesn’t demand anything of us, so we should start treating her properly. She serves us so well.

I do love nature. Although, driving into the city late at night when all you can see in the horizon is it’s beckoning glow is a lovely home to return to. I loved to visit and now I can’t imagine living away, but I always feel the pull to be out.

Even when the winter cold comes, skating on the river always gets me outdoors. If you dress for the weather, a blanket of snow holds so much possibility. Then when summer returns, I need to reconnect to nature and I catch up. I roll around on her grass, feel the soft breezes and stare into her night sky around a fire.

If you’re going, don’t mind the drive and have the room, can I come?

Tannis Kelm is a singer/songwriter who performs under the name Hors. Find her on Facebook, Twitter , Sound Cloud, Tumblr, or her Gold Chair Sessions videos on YouTube. Tune in to CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Tuesday nights at 11 p.m. for her show, Listening Pleasures.