Country or City?

Honestly, I’m probably too tired to write a blog post tonight. It was a very busy weekend, and I still need to prepare for classes tomorrow, as well as finish a story that is already overdue. But I haven’t written one for a couple of night, and I’m trying to keep up the habit, so here I am. I was originally going to write tonight on the difference between contentment and joy, which is something I’ve been thinking about lately. But I’m going to save that for sometime later this week. Instead, I’m going to write about a question I asked myself today: would I rather live in the country or the city?

I asked myself this question because a friend of mine, the wonderful writer Jeffrey Ford, posted a picture of the vegetables from his garden and the fruit from his apple trees. And I found myself envying him, remembering the days when I used to make a giant pot of apple butter (apples boiled down with cider and spices), and can it for winter. I wasn’t living in the country at the time, but in Larchmont, New York, the small town from which I commuted into Manhattan. But each weekend in the fall I would pick apples in an orchard to the north (where apples were $10 a bag), and I picked so many that there was nothing to do with them but make apple butter. I think it was my way of escaping from corporate law for the weekend.

Most places I’ve lived, I’ve longed for and sometimes actually had a garden. The last time I had the space and time for one, I planted old roses, and hostas and columbines and hellebores, and fritillaries came up in the spring. It’s still a dream of mine to live in the country and have a flower garden, and a vegetable garden, and a small orchard, and herbs. Even chickens (the fancy, pouffy ones). But I also love living in the city. Tonight, as I was walking home from the market, where I needed to pick up apples and potatoes, I took some pictures of some of the lovely old brownstones on my street.

I love walking down this street, particularly in the evening when I’m pleasantly tired of walking all day, because in the city I don’t have a car and I walk all day long, unless I’m taking the T (which is what the subway goes by here). Winter is coming, which means snow and sleet. But it also means the ballet and theater season, and I get cheap or free tickets to so many things through the university. I love the life here, the people on the streets who look so individual, so interesting — I wonder what their stories could be. The beautiful parks, and the river winding through it all like a dark green serpent.

So I don’t know. I think that I would like to live in the city part of the year, and in the country the other part. Is that too silly, too ambitious? Jonathan Franzen lives in New York and Santa Cruz. I know a number of established writers who have homes in two places. I suppose I’ll have to wait and see what it’s like when I’m an established writer — assuming that ever happens! In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the shows and the street life and the lights of the city in the evening.

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4 Responses to Country or City?

  1. Charles Tan says:

    You can be a writer of multiple worlds!

  2. I know Boston a little bit and those brownstones look familiar…I wonder which side of the Charles you’re on…and was surprised you lived in Larchmont once…me too but decades apart since I’m nearly 70. Meanwhile, you missed our New york tornado, so be comforted that you are always in the right place at the right time…and dreams do come true (sometimes even in this lifetime! 🙂

  3. Jane Yolen says:

    I love having two homes. But honestly, city life is over for me. I grew up in NY, lived my teens in Ct., back to NY for work after college. Enjoy visiting NY, Boston, Edinburgh (where I lived for six months), Charleston SC, Minneapolis, Portland Or., Paris, and Florence IT, but I have become the compleat country mouse. If I had LOTS of money, I’d probably buy a pied a terre in NY so I wouldn’t always have to rely on/bother friends. But after a week in any city, I am more than ready to flee to the country and the dawn chorus outside my window.


  4. Amy Bogard says:

    How funny you should be writing this, as it’s a question I’ve recently revisited myself. The answer I have come to is that I am a country girl, with honed city girl skillz. I have lived mostly city due to necessity, but am most at home and comfortable in the country or at the very least at home in my garden or out in the woods. What a lovely blog you have. Found it via Terri Windling and am now following via google reader. Looking forward to reading more posts in the future!
    thank you!

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