For the past 18 years I’ve lived in a small city. One of 30,000 men, women, and children in addition to dogs and seagulls. And it’s felt right. Way back in my past, many folks expected I’d wind up in New York City, and while I do hold a certificate in urban studies from my university, my career took me in another direction.
Well, here are 10 reasons I like where I am:
- Quaker Meeting. It’s my core community, my circle of kindred spirits, and we’re the fifth oldest congregation in the entire state. The four before us were all state-supported Colonial Puritan institutions. We were the renegades.
- Walking distance to whatever is usually essential. What a civilized way to live! We’re a mile from downtown, in one direction, and the hospital, in the other. (Oh, yes, we can stop somewhere nice for a drink and not worry about having to drive home.) It’s pedestrian-friendly place, really. Cars have to stop or, well, I’ve seen them halted by cops on big horses.
- I really like our mounted patrol. As do most of the kids.
- The Community Trail. As long as we’re walking, we have the option of a former railroad line that’s become a narrow woodsy park heading out from the train station (I often take that route to Meeting on Sunday morning) or a riverside meander heading upstream. Sometimes I think I’m much further north, in the mountains, especially when I’m on cross-country skis in deep winter.
- Centrally located. Within an hour’s drive we have Atlantic beaches one way, forested mountains in another, and the Hub of the Universe in a third. OK, Boston depends on the traffic, but I do rehearse weekly in a choir there.
- Waterfalls in the heart of downtown. The river falls to the tide and runs through an arch in the big brick mill. It used to power the mill, too. The scene’s quite charming and sometimes dramatic. And salmon are returning to the fish ladder.
- The city’s indoor pool. I swim a half-mile four or five times a week. Nice bunch of fellow swimmers and lifeguards. Not bad for a Christmas present!
- Our neighbors. They’re a story in their own right.
- Architectural diversity, as you might expect in the seventh oldest settlement in the continental U.S. We’re always seeing something unexpected when we stroll.
- We’ve become the downtown for the state university one town over. A third of its students live in apartments here, so we have a bit of that college town flavor. But not so much that we lose our blue-collar edge.
What do you like about the place you live?