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I am, even at the tender age of 39, a thorough-going creature of habit. During the week in Keene, I almost always walk Reggie along the same route into downtown and back; on weekends in Newton, my dog-walks are similarly predictable. On days when I don’t have much to do, I might take the time to explore, letting my feet (and Reggie) wander where they will. But on most days, my to-do list beckons, and I haven’t time to tarry.

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And so it is that I learned last week (only, I might note, because I missed my usual turn on the way home from doing errands and ended up driving a way I usually don’t) that right down the street from my formerly favorite factory here in Keene, a similarly old and abandoned mill building is being renovated, the site of upscale senior housing.  According to marketing copy, Bentley Commons, “situated near historic downtown Keene,” will incorporate a “completely renovated 100-year old mill building” and will also feature “a bike and hike trail that runs along a small stream bordering the property.” How strange it is to see the rail-trail and stream that run through my almost-backyard–a rail-trail that Reggie and I have walked many times when my to-do list has been short, and a stream that Reggie has occasionally muddied his paws in–marketed as “amenities” to others. How strange to see the downtown where Reggie and I so frequently walk touted as “historic.”

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Bentley Commons at Keene, that marketing copy continues, “will feature Independent living in 1 and 2 bedroom apartments as well as studios”; included in one’s rent are “healthy, well balanced meals prepared by a full time chef served in the dining room, 24 hour emergency staff assistance, weekly housekeeping and linen service, local transportation, and all utilities.” As described, Bentley Commons sounds like a dream come true: the carefree community of one’s dormitory days, but with the peace and quiet of mature and settled neighbors. If only they accepted tender-aged dog-walkers, I’d be first in line for a room of my own. Instead, here I am in a non-historic apartment where I cook my own meals, wash my own linens, and drive for myself (occasional missed turns notwithstanding). They say that youth is wasted on the young, but maybe the opposite is equally true. When I’m 64 and thus eligible for senior housing, it’s nice to think this creature of habit could be hiking, biking, and dog-walking along the same paths and streams I occasionally explore now.

Click here for more pictures of the simultaneous destruction, renovation, and construction at Bentley Commons. Yes, those are snowflakes you’ll see in the photos: yesterday afternoon, at least one downtown restaurant set out tables for customers’ alfresco enjoyment, and today we saw snow showers. Such is March in New England.