It might to the uninitiated be an impertinence to pronounce our Almonte apartment one resembling a Manhattan apartment. Yet for me the ambitious notion persists. Indeed it is part of the attraction of the place that it instills the comparison. Perhaps what prompted the association in the first place was the staid colour of the paint on the walls – a slightly burnt yellow, not a common colour but one which blends remarkably well with the darker hardwood floors. Perhaps it is its size which by New York standards is a very respectable 1,046 square feet. Perhaps it is the exuberance of the Persian rugs, the leather chairs, the mahogany furniture, the brass lamps, the crystal decanters and the paintings (about 42 in all). The place is passably elegant. There are in addition two full bathrooms, an unexpected luxury. One mustn’t overlook the secluded nature of the apartment either. We’re a top floor corner apartment with an uninhibited view of the nearby pastures in Ramsay Township (granted not too like the Manhattan skyline but nonetheless similarly peerless – imagine if you will a view upon Central Park towards the Upper East Side). Lastly the supreme distinguishing feature of the place is that in keeping with New York culture it is an apartment, not a house. It conveniently lends itself to immediate and trouble-free vacancy. This cosmopolitan element blends nicely with our hibernation strategy.
Adjustment to the size of the apartment has resulted in the imposition of another Manhattan attribute; namely, a studied economy of space. We haven’t for example any spare room for redundant things. There is no possibility of storing anything “just in case” it might be needed one day. Duplication is likewise out of the question; only one set of cutlery, dishes, placemats, etc. This all contributes to modern expediency. Surplusage is incongruous and utterly impractical. We have kept only our treasured possessions.
The building itself reveals a number of features which distinguish the place. While it hasn’t the constitutional template of the New York cooperative it has instead the novelty of a “life lease” which in many ways affords the same supercilious restrictions so common to the cooperative, prohibiting for example ownership or occupancy by anyone under the age of 45 years. The sweeping circular drive at the front entrance is overhung by a large portico which vaguely resembles a trendy residential hotel. The lobby is calculated to inspire propriety, colours of silver and matching elegant furnishings. There is a specially outfitted common room and a small gymnasium complete with powder room. At the back of the building is a very well appointed and landscaped area which over the years will assuredly qualify as a giardino segreto.
Finally there are the personalities of the inhabitants. Without question the blood lines have the appearance of cultivation. Social graces are not lost on the burghers of this particular enclave. There is just the right amount of corporate guardedness to preserve a shadow of urban anonymity.