NYC vs the Small Town

M. M. De Voe
6 min readSep 28, 2023

Reality has something to say about the idyllic country life

Photo by Louise Tollisen on Unsplash

I live in an average co-op apartment in Manhattan with a part-time 70-year-old doorman and no gym, no pool, no public space, and a basement full of collective laundry machines. My front door opens onto lower Broadway where the only signs of nature are seasonal hanging plants on antique lampposts and the occasional sidewalk outbreak of horrible invasive Lantern Flies which I stomp in demonic frenzy like a winemaking bacchante. I frequent the Catskills and Berkshires because the country girl in my heart misses the expansive embrace of peaceful tree giants that don’t mind my insignificance on the face of the planet and don’t criticize the progress I have made. To them and to the boulders and lakes I am still young and have a long way to go, even though I have been striving for growth for more than half a century. Nature treats everyone the same whether you earn a high salary or are barely able to afford a morning bagel from a coffee cart. The trees are mentors. You can breathe in their shade, looking up at their highest branches. You can take comfort in the fact that they too, were seedlings once, even though their branches now touch the face of the sun.

Whenever I visit, I enjoy long walks in the woods, and then stop by the country homes of my friends for a glass of red wine by their fire or for a glass of white while walking through their cultivated gardens. They complain though, of their battles with nature — the cold is a biting, wet cold and it is expensive to heat their homes, in the summers the heat is too hot and breaks things or causes storms that kill the old trees which then have to be uprooted to save the house, the harvest garden is plentiful but attracts deer and groundhogs which have to be eliminated, bears are a constant lurking threat — not just dangerous to pets and children, but also because they look so lovable you can’t imagine they might kill you if you hugged them nicely.

We are our own worst enemy in nature — long steep hiking trails seem do-able even though the idea of walking five miles on flat pavement sounds insane; rocky edges don’t look that steep since we are trained by glorious balconies and glass-enclosed restaurants; trails of biting ants which would instantly summon an exterminator in an NYC apartment are just a small caution to seal the jelly…

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M. M. De Voe

Fictionista, collector of obscure awards, admirer of optimists in the face of dread. Author of 2 books that are polar opposites and yet the same. mmdevoe.com