June 2015: Late last night we were waiting for our last guest to check in. I was on the couch reading the New York Times on my laptop. Florence Welch of the British rock band Florence and the Machine broke her foot last month when she jumped into the crowd at the Coachella Music Festival. She currently performs sitting on a stool singing her hit song….The dog days are over/The dog days are gone.
“I would have preferred to maybe not break my foot,” Florence said. Me too.
I have a feeling our dog days have just begun. I am trying to run an inn with two broken feet: changing rooms, making breakfast, cleaning the dirty kitchen, managing loads and loads of laundry, and unpacking my things so I can finally feel at home. The only thing I can do sitting on a stool is fold sheets. Rich hands me one end, walks backwards from the stool where I sit perched, and we tighten and fold in half and half again, remembering to reverse direction on the fitted sheet.
Tonight’s temperature is forecast to reach thirty degrees. It’s fucking June!! Two and a half years in Florida and we rarely thought about the weather. We put on sandals and headed out the door. Now I don’t own enough sweaters. I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about my wardrobe until September.
Francoise arrives at ten. He is from a small town in France and on a college tour with his son who attends a private school in the area. Yale. Harvard. MIT. Dartmouth. They are all on his list.
“You have a smart one,” Rich says.
“Oui, but it is not without its consequences.”
The moon is sinking below the hundred forty foot hemlocks in the backyard outside our bedroom window. We’re not sure if the temperature has reached thirty degrees but the bed is warm and the sheets are soft.
I am whining. My feet really hurt. I tell Rich I think I am experiencing further damage, that possibly cracks are spreading up my leg bones.
“Yes, that is what happens,” he says. “Cracks begin to spread all along your bones and eventually your bones explode.” He makes a sound like an explosion.
I laugh and ask what kind of omelet he is making tomorrow.
“I don’t know.”
“You should use those tomatoes in the vegetable drawer.”
“I hate tomato omelets.”
“You’re not eating them.” I tell this to the man who once told a customer who wanted to paint her front door purple that she should choose another color because her Christmas wreath wouldn’t look good on a purple door. He convinced her to try burgundy. She hated it and asked him to paint it again. ‘So you had to paint the door twice?” I asked one Saturday when he had to return to her house to repaint the door. I drove by that house often on my way to do bookkeeping for a Portuguese lady who made her own bottled hot pepper sauce and Madeira wine from grapes that grew on an archway over her long driveway. At Christmas time, I noticed Rich’s customer had a purple bow on the wreath on her purple door.
“Why is a tomato a vegetable?“ he asks.
“I don’t know. It’s a plant. Fruit grows on trees. It should be a vegetable, don’t you think?”
He doesn’t hear my answer. He is already snoring.
The next morning breakfast is a whirlwind but the former managers, a brother/sister duo, are a huge help. We are lacking in our prep skills. Mushrooms shrink. How did we forget this? Halfway through breakfast we run out of them and Holly suggests a tomato omelet. Rich stubbornly makes a spinach and feta.
Three ladies from Brooklyn are here on a girls weekend. Two of the women want yogurt parfaits with no honey, just a sprinkle of granola, and fruit on the side. Rich comes through the swinging kitchen door slowly as it is about to fall off its hinge and is on his to-do-list. He gives me their order as I am in charge of yogurt parfaits and adds, “They’re a couple of Meg Ryans.” We have watched When Harry Met Sally at least a hundred times so I know what he is talking about.
After the breakfast rush is over, he asks Mike and Holly if they want something to eat. They both order tomato omelets and tell us a story of their most demanding guest.
“He was pulling an Art Garfunkel,” Rich says, ignoring the fact that he just made a tomato omelet.