Going to live in the country, viewed dispassionately as an accountant’s balance sheet, has attributes that can be recorded in black ink as well as those that require a robust crimson. If you really want a place where you need not be constantly rubbing elbows with the rest of the world; where you can cultivate something more ambitious than window boxes or an eight by ten pocket-handkerchief garden; where subways and street clatter can be forgotten; your black column will be far longer than the one in red. But if nothing feels so good to your foot as smooth unyielding pavements; if the multicolored electric sign of a moving picture palace is more entrancing than a vivid sunset; you are at heart a city bird, intended by temperament to nest behind walls of brick and steel. There is nothing you can do about it either. In the country the nights are so black; the birds at dawn too noisy; and Nature when she storms and scolds, is a fish-wife. Possibly you can learn to endure it all but will the game be worth the candle? Without true fondness for outdoors and an inner urge for a measure of seclusion, life in the country is drear. Don’t attempt it.
But for those who care for the cool damp of evening dew; the first robin of spring hopping pertly across the grass; or a quiet winter evening with a good book or a radio program of their own choosing rather than that of the people living across the hall; country life is worth every cent of its costs and these bear lightly.
Along Fifth avenue, New York, not far from the Metropolitan Museum, is a typical town house. A man of means maintains it for social and business reasons. But he does not live there. His intimates know that only a few minutes after the last dinner guest has departed, his chauffeur will drive him some twenty miles to a much simpler abode on a secluded dirt road. Here, he really lives. Whistling tree toads replace the constant whir of buses and taxicabs.
Most of us cannot be so extravagant. We are fortunate to have one home, either in the city or the country. Renting or buying it entails sacrifices, and maintaining it has its unexpected expenses that always come at the wrong time. What do those who live beyond the limits of cities and sophisticated villages gain by hanging their crane with the rabbits and woodchucks?
First, country living is the answer to congestion. Even the most modest country cottage is more spacious than the average city apartment. Life in such a house may be simple but not cramped. There is light and air on all sides. This may seem unimportant but did you ever occupy an apartment where the windows opened on a court or were but a few feet from the brick wall of another warren for humans? If the sun reached your windows an hour or two a day, you were lucky. In a country house there is sunlight somewhere on pleasant days from morning to night. That difference can only be understood by those who have known both ways of living.