The Country Mouse and the City Mouse
By Al Reese
Many of you will remember the story of the City Mouse and the Country Mouse, one of Aesop’s Fables. In the original tale, a proud city mouse visits his cousin in the country. The country mouse offers the city mouse a meal of simple country cuisine, at which the visitor scoffs and invites the country mouse back to the city for a taste of the "fine life,” and the two cousins dine like emperors. But their rich and delicious feast is interrupted by a couple of dogs that force the rodent cousins to abandon their meal and scurry to safety. After this, the country mouse decides to return home, preferring security to opulence.
I’ve experienced a somewhat similar tale lately. I moved to Tiverton, RI, last December, hungry for a change of venue after seeing my youngest off to college. I have friends who live here who, after many social visits, convinced me to look more closely at the real estate market. While touring the area with one of them, I literally stumbled upon the house I live in now, having seen a “for sale” sign on the front lawn and being wowed by its location and potential. I’ve just completed my first summer in Tiverton, and I have to say the experience has been more satisfying than I could have imagined. This part of RI is breathtakingly beautiful. There are still vast tracts of land dedicated to cattle and crop farms. Many of those fields flank the Sakonnet River, providing views so picturesque that there are many days when I mumble “I can’t believe I get to live here!” Summer is when the area really shines, with farm stands likes Walker’s, ice cream shops at seemingly every corner, and South Shore Beach (at the southern tip of Rhode Island) just a few miles down the road. I’ve also enjoyed some fantastic locally grown strawberries, peaches, and tomatoes this year, and I can buy them straight off the vine.
Through the generosity of a friend, I’ve recently lived a quite different experience in the Back Bay of Boston. I had worked in Boston for decades, but five years away led me to be surprised by its current pace. Even in the middle of the day, the streets and shops are a hive of ages, languages, and cultures. Fantastic people watching! The restaurants in Back Bay and Cambridge seem to be full every night, and I’ve been delighted by the variety and quality of the restaurant landscape. I’ve also been able to rekindle my love for Berklee College of Music and the local music scene. There is construction everywhere, and it’s obvious that the local economy is booming. Sadly - and perhaps correspondingly - there is still a lot of homelessness and panhandling, as nearly all of the development is “high end.” It’s disappointing to see that the plight of the less fortunate has not improved along with the economy. On the whole, however, these recent weeks have been both eye opening and gratifying, as they have provided yet another reminder of how fortunate I am to have the career I do and be able to travel in two incredible worlds.