It has been a busy few weeks at the Inn, or has it been a month? I often forget what day it is. Monday and Tuesday are my weekends but even then things are busy. It is summer in the Berkshires.
The laundry is piled high. I gingerly navigate mountains of dirty sheets because my broken ankles are still healing. Folded towels teeter like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Dirty plates in the sink wait for the wine glasses, coffee cups, and last night’s dinner plates to finish the wash cycle in the already loaded dishwasher.
This summer we’ve met auto mechanics working on Porsches at Lime Rock, rock’n roll bus drivers and Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, classical music lovers who attend Chamber Music concerts and Tanglewood, and the fans of Hot Tuna, Marshall Tucker, Little River Band, Art Garfunkel, and other rockers crisscrossing the country to perform at music halls large and small.
There have been lots of couples celebrating anniversaries, guests attending weddings, and parents who come from surprising places to bring their kids to camp in the country. Madrid, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Beijing. They drop the kids off, stay for the week or travel, then pick the kids up and travel some more-to Niagara Falls, Saratoga, Boston, New York City. They have weeks of vacation time and I can’t help but ask, what are Americans doing wrong?
We have a fair share of gay couples visit and I can’t imagine not letting them stay or not making them breakfast or a wedding cake if we did weddings but thank goodness we do not. Hosting a wedding is way beyond my innkeeping skills although four months after I eloped I hosted my own wedding reception in the backyard of my New Hampshire home when I was two months pregnant.
People love it here. The peace and quiet. No TV. The Internet is spotty. They are far from the maddening world, surrounded by forests and hills and good music. They make friends in the sunroom and the lounge where we serve complimentary wine, exchanging email addresses and making plans to meet again.
We are making friends too, often joining them to share our stories and a glass of wine.
It is hard to find time to write but I do. Not as much as I would like but I know things will slow down and I have pages and pages of notes. I can’t believe I am saying this but I am looking forward to winter when the inn is quiet. I imagine being snowed in, the fireplace roaring with four foot logs my husband purchased from the Great Mountain Forest. I will be bundled up in wooly socks, sweaters (I imagine I will need multiples), and a blanket, writing all day long.
Today we hosted a corporate retreat. A group of people who work together and hired a motivational speaker. They discuss ways of being more productive, team building, information sharing, collaborative effort.
They are lovely people and thrilled to be staying at this mansion in the country. We rearranged the dining room tables so they could sit together and made room for the corporate white board that was quickly filled with flow charts and key words and lists.
Rich left early for the Blackberry River Baking Company owned by Sam and Audrey, a lovely young couple who look like they stepped out of the pages of my first novel, The Reverse Commute. They provided fresh out of the oven peach scones, chocolate croissants, cheese danish, apple strudel and raspberry bear claws, and a couple of gluten free blueberry muffins because it seems that a week doesn’t pass by without someone at the Inn specifying they are gluten free. I added my own blueberry banana bread and a fruit salad of cantaloupe, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, and grapes along with Greek yogurt and granola. We made pots and pots of coffee throughout the day.
In the early evening we set out hors ’d’oeuvres for a cocktail hour. Goat cheese from the Lost Ruby Farm along with hot pepper jelly that Adair and her husband Antonio make. Smoked cheddar and Swiss cheese from Nodine’s, the local smokehouse where we buy our apple smoked bacon and sausage. Grapes, strawberries, and crackers artfully scattered around the platters. Chianti and Pinot Griogio.
Although I have never been on a corporate retreat I was reminded of corporate meetings I was once required to attend. The accounting department never got further than the cafeteria or the conference room. We were the worker bees. I paid the credit cards for the guys who traveled the world selling our products, wining and dining our clients, sleeping in hotels and dining out. Often, when I was bored, I would Google the restaurants they ate at, checking out the menus and deciding what I’d order if I had an expense account.
I remember a meeting where the CEO boasted about a rather brutal corporate takeover he negotiated. Everyone thought he was brilliant. I was just left wondering why we were still subjected to a raise freeze, and why I couldn’t skip this meeting, go back to my desk and finish my work, and leave early to spend two more hours at home instead of here, listening to corporate war stories. But I was sitting for health insurance which required my presence at my desk forty hours a week, fifty weeks a year.
At the end of this long day of innkeeping I am stretched out on the sofa, my ankles stiff, my back a little sore, and despite the nap I took just before the cocktail hour, I am about to drift off to sleep so I am writing instead in an attempt to stay awake to catch this evening’s Perseids meteor shower. The sky is mostly clear and out here in the valley of the Berkshire Mountains we are far from the glow of city lights.
Tomorrow morning we will once again make breakfast, fold the sheets, make the beds, and listen to the stories that pass through our front door. But tonight we will take a blanket outside, lay down on the lawn, look up, and let our eyes wander across the sky.