If you went to public school in the GTA, there’s a near-one-hundred-per cent chance that one November long ago you were bundled into a yellow bus with your snot-faced, screaming classmates and hauled down to the Coliseum building at the C.N.E. to tour the Royal Winter Fair.
The problem is that most of us, unless we work on a farm or in agriculture, will never return. This is a mistake, for two reasons:
a) For $15, you get a whirlwind tour of the stunning diversity of animal and plant life on this planet; you can marvel at Mother Nature’s sublime sophistication, admiring her motif of form following function when you see how a nimble horse’s legs are lean and sinewy for jumping and how a milk cow’s stocky limbs are thick and dense, perfect for bearing the weight of her nourishment; you learn to appreciate how important agriculture was in shaping our plentiful and mighty nation—
b) You get to see goats fucking.
Okay, enough with the jokes. But I think I have a point with that last example.
When you live in the Big Smoke and you spend your daylight hours in a fluorescent-lit, windowless room earnestly expounding on Derrida with your pasty-white goateed classmates and your closest exposure to nature is the tiny bonsai tree in the bar area at Sushi Time, it’s too easy to forget that, as we were so poignantly reminded recently by that music video with the horny monkeys, we humans ain’t nothin’ but mammals.
The great thing about the Royal Winter Fair is the way it reminds city dwellers how the other half of humanity lives, in a world of tractors, fertile soils, cow patties and cases of Bud. We high and holy university students have a pretty skewed view of how the world works.
We tend to place great value on intellectual jobs, convincing ourselves that Web-page designers, med students and humanities profs will solve our problems and lead society from the dark clouds of prejudice and ignorance.
But the folks who bring their braided, brushed show horses or their prize beef cattle to the Fair every year are the ones who feed the rest of us.
They’re the ones who realize that no matter how we close ourselves off in Gothic cloisters or office towers, all humans are a part of nature.
So show your appreciation for those that fill our bellies. Marvel at the ingeniousness of biology. Feel the simple pleasure of connecting with nature. The next time it comes to town, go to the Fair.