Grass greener beyond Pictou County?

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People often ask me whether I prefer theatre or film, and the answer is that I prefer the one I'm not doing: The grass is always greener.”
Helen Mirren ~ Oscar Winning Actress

Proverbs like “the Grass is always greener (on the other side of the fence”) help to convey basic truths of our human experience.  Proverbs come to us from various languages and cultures, notably from the “Book of Proverbs” in the Bible and from Medieval Latin writings (“Adagia”) by Erasmus of Rotterdam.


At one time or other, most of us have had fleeting moments when we wondered what it would be like to be someone else, to be somewhere else, to be doing something else with our lives. That admiration (envy?) is captured in the poem “Richard Cory,” by three-time American Pulitzer Prize winner, Edwin Arlington Robinson:

And he (Richard Cory) was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

As we stand in line at a local checkout gazing at those alluring glossy magazine covers, it’s hard not to wonder what it would be like to be that famous celebrity, to possess that gym-toned body, to live in that fabulous mansion, to drive that expensive sports car, to be anywhere else but in Pictou County.

Is the grass greener elsewhere?

Robert Hartley, head coach of the Calgary Flames does not think so: “The grass is not always greener on the other side,” Hartley said. “When you’re in a situation, you make the best out of that situation. That’s the way I live my life. I don’t look at my neighbour’s car or what he does. I do what I think is right.”

But American actress/model Cameron Diaz says: “The grass is always greener and everyone always wants to be in somebody else's shoes; they don't want to be in their own.” Then again, Erma Bombeck claims: “The grass is always greener over the septic tank.”

How often have you heard Pictou County being compared to Truro and its surrounding communities? We know that Truro had a Wendy’s, Burger King, Swiss Chalet, Murphy’s Restaurant and Giant Tiger long before we did. They still have a Murphy’s Restaurant and an M&M store and their Giant Tiger is larger! We never did get a Bulk Barn! When the ill-fated Zeller’s retailer upgraded their stores, the Truro store was modernized, the New Glasgow store wasn’t. You are probably aware that Truro has more upscale apartment buildings and condos than we have in Pictou County. Truro is, of course, 30 minutes closer to HRM! But is the grass greener there?

I wonder if Truro area residents ever assume that the grass is greener in Pictou County as they admire their neighbouring community that has a port town with a famous ship, a national grocery company with a head office, dining establishments such as Hebel’s, East Side Bistro, and Pictou Lodge or a mall that will soon host the craft giant Michael‘s.

Perhaps they are impressed with a community that KPMG in 2004 ranked as the number-one most cost-competitive community in the world in which to do business, the 2013 recipient of TITANS’ Golden Hospitality Award for its summer musical festival, the national Community in Bloom awards or by the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council’s Community Arts and Culture Recognition Award presented annually to a community that demonstrates the value it places on the presence of arts and culture in community life. Pictou County communities are, of course, 30 minutes closer to Antigonish and Cape Breton!

Let’s face it, doesn’t the world envy Pictou County as the pizza capital? One Squidoo internet blog suggests Pictou County has more pizza shops per capita than anywhere in North America.

"The Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener," a song written by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent which was a 1967 hit for Petula Clark seems to sum up the basic truth contained in the proverb:

The other man's grass is always greener,

the sun shines brighter on the other side!

The other man's grass is always greener,

some are lucky, some are not,

I'm so thankful for what I've got!

So many admired Richard Cory, so many wanted to walk in his shoes, so many thought his grass was greener, yet the last verse of the poem says:

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Let’s give the legendary Little Richard the last comment on the proverb:

And I'd like to give my love to everybody, and let them know that the grass may look greener on the other side, but believe me, it's just as hard to cut.


George R. Henaut is a resident of New Glasgow; an author/playwright, a retired educator involved in local theatre and church/community groups. 

Organizations: Calgary Flames, Burger King, Swiss Chalet Restaurant and Giant Tiger KPMG Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council

Geographic location: Pictou County, Rotterdam, New Glasgow East Side Bistro Antigonish Cape Breton North America

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