Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything


I want you to be happy.

I’d like to be happy, too, now that you mention it. And sometimes my wife and I wonder if we wouldn’t be happier in a little village than out in the woods.

Consider the picture. It has those wonders of wonders – girls – in it. I don’t have any girls. I have no idea what to do with them. My wife is as mysterious to me as the day I met her, so she’s no good figurin’ it out, either. It is good that I was given only boys to raise as I am a lummox and cannot be entrusted with the care of female children. I’d be willing, but unskilled, like minimum wage laborers.

It has other wonders, besides three people in the frame. If you live out away from things, there is seldom other people in the frame. It has sidewalks, where you could push a pram with a bebby in it. That’s the pleasantest thing in the whole wide world, I think. Some muck it up by considering it exercise. It is a promenade, not a 10k. Calm down.

The sidewalks have that patch of turf between the concrete and the curb. That’s essential. Urban sidewalks just butt the street, and you feel too close to the traffic, always. There are no sidewalks where I live, and walking along the shoulder of the road is a seesaw between the Scylla of the poison ivy and the Charybdis of the cars rocketing by occasionally. No thanks.

There are trees that dapple the sunlight, and ameliorate the heat, and line the street like nature’s own corinthian columns. A place for the birds to natter and the squirrels to chatter when the housecats come outside. Trees are different out here. They are an advancing phalanx, not a peristyle arbor. You trod the edges of them, but they don’t invite you in.

It’s lovely to live in a semi-urban setting, and have a broad porch with a stoop to sit on and watch the passing scene. Semi-urban setting have a passing scene to watch, too. There’s a little drive next to your house leading to a garage in the back, where it belongs, and the houses sit up on their foundation a bit to gain privacy for the occupants even though the house is almost right on the street. The yard is in back, slightly untidy, where the occupants can feel a little more privacy. It’s a grand place for a garden or a swingset or a brick grill; or if you’re rich as Croesus, a pool.

There can be rental units, but only if the owner of the property also lives in the building. No one is a bad neighbor when the landlord is right downstairs.

You have to have a lot in common with your neighbors for it to work, and that’s what makes it harder nowadays to find this scene. You can’t always trust your neighbors to have approximately the same worldview as you any more. More has to be carefully defined in your interactions because less is predetermined by homogeneity. You have to ask if your neighbors let their children play Grand Theft Auto instead of with Barbies. You can’t assume much of anything anymore.

There is no one way to live. We all can’t be happy in concrete urban dovecotes, or log cabins. There has to be a mix, so that each can find his own. I’m good out by the bogs with the Ospreys kiting overhead. By I find myself looking over the zoning fence these days, and wondering how the tree-lined street might suit us. You guys on either side wouldn’t mind a table saw running at one AM once in awhile, would you?

4 Responses

  1. Funny — I find myself wishing for several wild acres for my boys to run around in and explore…

    You guys on either side wouldn’t mind a table saw running at one AM once in awhile, would you?

    Heck, no. You don’t mind if the music is playing a little loud from time to time, do you?

    And we’d wave to you from our porch, too.

  2. If you’re suggesting trading houses, we left the East Coast on purpose. But you’re welcome here in St. Louis.

    Can the boys come over to play on your drums, though? The younger one needs to work off some energy.

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