You Get What You Need

We’ve been in Red Lake for a month now, and every day I'm learning something new about this place, whether it's from an interview I did for the newspaper with a former local who now travels the world as a Red Bull athlete competing in air races or from talking with a coworker about the ongoing struggle of the First Nation people and the tragic history behind it. This place is full of stories—some good, some heartbreaking. 

Small town life is strange, especially when said small town is surrounded by hundred of miles—OK, fine hundreds of KILOMETRES—of bush, and the closest city is over five hours away. It brings to mind a certain line of a Rolling Stone’s song.

You can’t always get what you want

For instance, there are only a handful of restaurants to choose from. There are no sushi restaurants, tapas bars, fusion food, microbreweries, or food trucks (God bless you for those, California). You will definitely not find a tablecloth at any establishment here.


With a house to furnish, the lack of shops is also something that is tough to work around. The closest option is a two-hour drive away to a slightly bigger town that has a furniture store and will ship your purchases for an ungodly price. Or you can drive five hours to Winnipeg, Manitoba, rent a trailer and stock up at IKEA and other shops. It takes a lot of pre-planning and one monstrous bill, but that’s what we are going to have to do. No fun trips to Target to get finishing touches or to Hobby Lobby for a DIY project.

There is no movie theatre in Red Lake and just a couple of bars to go to at night. It’s an adjustment, but one that has forced Charlie and me to take a look at what we enjoy doing and find ways to fill our time.

I read more; plan out our week’s meals, attempting more complicated and time-consuming recipes; take Daisy on long walks to our garden plot to tend the veggies; go to yoga classes; forage for wild berries and chanterelle mushrooms; sit on the docks watching the Norseman planes alight on Howey Bay; and turn down random dirt roads into the bush to snap photos.

I miss the mountains and—I never thought I’d say it—the ever-changing fads of food, fashion and activities we found on the West Coast. Life is slower here. You learn to appreciate the simple pleasures, to let go of what you don't need, and to create your own culture.

I love driving to work in the morning down the one-lane highway past lakes and rivers, scanning the roadside for moose and deer. I savor the evenings spent skateboarding through the neighborhoods, not worrying about any cars as Daisy runs beside me. It’s always so peaceful here. So as the Stones said...

But if you try sometimes, well you just might find, you get what you need.