My office is, again, about as perfect for me as it can get. The western side of the room is dominated by bookshelves. The eastern wall is filled with pictures of my children and grandchildren and awards that I and my books have earned. The northwestern corner is devoted to a gas stove sitting on a brick-and-mortar hearth—now warming me against the outdoor temperature down in the lower twenties.
So the house is perfect for me and the way I live my life. It is also in the most beautiful city I have ever visited, Columbia, Maryland. At its center is a huge mall, 1,400,000 square feet in area with over 200 stores. The rest of the city is organized around “villages,” small shopping centers. The city was planned and constructed by James W. Rouse. It opened in 1967. Rouse saw to it that the entire city was dominated by forests—it is built around parks linked by walkways. I, like all other residents, live in a forest, and my house overlooks one of many small lakes in the city, all joined by streams.
And in the middle of Columbia is Lake Kittamaqundi, a 27-acre man-made lake. According to the Visit Howard County website, the lake’s name, taken from the first recorded Native American settlement in Howard County, means “meeting place.” With a maximum depth of seven feet, the lake features a boathouse with a wooden pier and a launching ramp along its western shore.
Columbia, in sum, is far and away the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived.
My house is ideal for me in another way: it requires almost no upkeep. I have no lawn to mow, and the trees that surround me are all on land owned not by me but by the Columbia Association which does a magnificent job of maintaining them. All I have to do is several times a year trim the bushes along the walkways around the house.
So here I am living in the most beautiful city I have ever seen in a house ideal for my needs. How lucky can you get?