Thursday, 26 August 2010

Town mouse/country mouse?

Once upon a time a little mouse was born in the depths of the country. She spent her entire childhood tootling along the lanes, smelling the wild flowers, watching the tadpoles turn into frogs in the little streams, listening to the birds singing and generally getting used to the peace and quiet and the slow pace of life.

Then country mouse grew up and met town mouse. He was a macho guy, used to living in some of the most populated cities in the world having spent his formative years in the city of Shanghai. Of course country mouse fell in love and they were married.

For some years town mouse took quite happily to the country living but then was posted to city life and country mouse followed him there. For much of their lives together they lived in a city, albeit in a bungalow with a big garden, at the end of a cul-d-sac and well away from the traffic noise.

Then, when they were getting quite old they tired of town life and moved together back into the country, where country/town mouse herself now lives. Oh how lovely were the sights, sounds and smells of the wide open country. She didn't miss city life one little bit!

Are you a country mouse or a town mouse? I can see the attractions of city living - if you want to see them at their best go to Elizabeth's site (The World Examining Works) where she charts living in Manhattan in photographs - making it look really
exciting. So, what makes city life unbearable for me (for I, of course, am that country mouse in my story)?

Apart from the noise, the crowds, the smells? It is probably the traffic.

Years ago when I travelled across China by train I had a taste of both. Beijing was certainly crowded with people but the wide open spaces were huge - The Forbidden City, Tien en Men square - and there was so little traffic - just millions (and I mean millions) of bicycles. Well that was in 1984. How things have changed.

As China has embraced capitalism, as car sales in China outstrip those in the U S, things have changed! Now - would you believe this - there is a sixty mile long traffic jam on the Beijing - Tibet highway. The Chinese are nothing if not enterprising and the fact that it will probably take three weeks to clear it has made them set up their own traffic jam community - organising card-playing sessions at the side of the road, buying their food etc. from various stalls set up by villagers along the way, and generally making the best of it.

When I think of those tiny villages I passed through on the train all those years ago - an abiding memory is of seeing a donkey working a mill grinding stone while the villagers stood around watching, and the tiny black piglets running in the gardens, playing with the children.

That entrepreneurial spirit will have stood them in good stead for setting up hasty food stalls cooking all mannner of foods for the 'jammers'. And as the Times says this morning, China is rapidly overtaking Japan as the home of traffic jams.

So - what kind of life style do you like? Are you willing to risk the odd traffic jam in order to live the fast life? Do you prefer to vegetate in the depths of the country? Do you like a mixture of both? Answers on a comments postcard please.

25 comments:

patteran said...

I quite fancy a flat in the Marais in Paris, an apartment in Greenwich Village and a studio in Shoreditch. But home has to be in the country. A week or so of access to restaurants, theatres and art galleries would be entirely wonderful, but exhilaration would soon turn into sturm und drang as the sheer weight of buildings, vehicles and people in motion made itself felt and I'd be heading at speed for hearth and home opposite fields and five minutes walk from the village!

Arija said...

For me, there is no choice at all, my feet abhor sealed roads and footpaths, I am an avid non-shopper. I have not met a dish in a starred restaurant that I have not been able to replicate from taste and find the cooking with love process so much more pleasant than waiting in a restaurant.
I have hiked through the major museums of the world including the Hermitage and although I have enjoyed them immensely, It is not something I need as everyday fare.
Give me a brook and a meadow, a wood within easy walking distance and a small, interwoven country community. i have lived from Melbourne to Montreal and quite a few in between and our little Mt.Pleasant does me very well.

Jinksy said...

The call of the sea keeps me on the fringe of both town and country, here on the South coast, where you can choose your destination to suit you mood...

Elisabeth said...

I prefer the city - my city - Weaver but love the countryside - any countryside for a visit. This may change of course.

Dave King said...

My ideal, I think, would be a small market town with easy access to the country. But I've tried them all at various times (in my imagination) from a croft on Scotland's W coast (the W stands for wet) to London. I've lived in the London suburbs and badly miss the art galleries, museums and theatres, but I rather steer slightly towards vegetation.

Leilani Lee said...

City mouse moved to the country and is quite happy here. I like going back to the city on occasion (and Elizabeth's blog you mentioned is one of my favorites)for food and entertainment, but would never ever willingly move back to the city. One year on a visit back to Los Angeles -- where I learned to drive car -- I was so paralyzed by the amount of traffic I did not drive once the entire week.

izzy said...

A country mouse with visitation rights-
variety! But the home base must be peaceful. Early life taught me you are home wherever you are. The preeminent
vision of peace was a beach,where one could walk for hours ( especially with a dog)and birds...

Everton Terrace said...

I live in Phoenix, the 6th largest city in the US and I love it. I am lucky enough to live at one of our gorgeous mountains so I have a lovely non-city view. The traffic is also the only thing I really don't like. I'm not big on crowds but somehow manage to avoid them. I do long to live by the sea at some point and a meadow with a long lane behind my house calls me as well. I think I'd be happy anywhere.

The Wife of a Dairyman said...

I like the country life which I live, although I enjoy being close to the city to pop on over when so inclined:) Like your site and thank you for visiting mine:)

Reader Wil said...

I am definitely a country mouse. I hate going to a metropolis for longer that a couple of hours. I don't like shopping and I dislike crowded markets. Strangely enough I love small country towns like Gouda,and Amersfoort because they have the original old buildings from a few centuries ago. But I am glad I live in a village.

MorningAJ said...

Country mouse with occasional trips to town. What I really miss while I'm stuck in the Midlands is being able to get to the sea. I'm sure some of the US readers think a three hour trip is nothing, but for me it might as well be the other side of the world.
If I could find a new job in Scarborough I'd be off like a shot.

lakeviewer said...

I started as a country mouse, and ended up as a country mouse, though for fifty plus years I was a city mouse dreaming of returning to the country.

Elizabeth said...

But I'm Country Mouse really!
I long for lots of grass and water
and to putter about with secateurs and clip at things.
Of course, you can never be bored in Manahttan --fed up, frustrated etc etc. but there is always something to do.
So I come to your blog to visit the country.

Heather said...

I am definitely a country mouse Pat. I can't stand traffic fumes and noise or crowds, and although many wonderful events take place in various cities I don't go to see them. I think I could have adapted as a younger woman - in fact my husband was offered a job in London when our children were small. Had he wanted to take it, I would have made the most of all the benefits of city living but was quite relieved when I wasn't asked to do so. Country mouse? - I'm more of a country bumpkin!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Not many town mice around then, are there? I think Dick has the right idea - if you ever get round to it Dick, we'll all rent one of these places off you for the odd week!

Thanks for all your comments.

George said...

I grew up as a country mouse, spent my career as a city mouse, and have now become a small town mouse. I've loved it all, but with every passing day, I find that the best life is the simple life, far from the din of traffic and noise.

Von said...

Once a country mouse always a country mouse despite life in London and several other large cities in England in my young adult years.I'm back to my roots and from my hill can see where I grew up.I have a 180 view of the sea.I adore Paris, Barcelona but will never travel again, can't stand the crowds.

Titus said...

City. Any city. Bigger the better.

Bonnie said...

I love to live in the country (and do live a sort of countrified life), but with easy access to a big city for the museums, galleries, restaurants, symphonies, etc. When driving in city and seeing city life, I keep uttering 'thank you, thank you' that I do NOT have to live there.

Totalfeckineejit said...

I think I'd quite like to live in your house Weaver.Do you have a spare room?

Crafty Green Poet said...

Edinburgh is ideal for me, a small city with lots of cultural attractions, from festivals to varied restaurants but with lots of green spaces and good access to the Scottish countryside

ChrisJ said...

No contest. I'm a country mouse. Wouldn't care if I never went to a city again. No malls, no cars, buses motor cycles and especially NO NOISE! Of course I'd have my computer and TV. But I have them turned down low whenever they are on, until my husband joins me.

Golden West said...

My little hometown has grown from 5,000 to 60,000 people, so I've created my own oasis in the chaos. Thanks to the internet, working from home for the past 10 years helps - I only put 2,000 miles on my vehicle last year! There's no place like home.

Mac n' Janet said...

Country mouse for sure. Seven years ago we moved from California where we lived in a small town (70,000 people!) to Georgia to a house in a swamp!

Rusty said...

I guess for practical reasons I'm more a suburban mouse. I avoid the city as much as I can - though it has certain attractions such as big libraries. I dream of the country on the side of a hill with forest not too far away and a clear stream close by. But thats just a dream of things long past.
ATB!