That Cold, Cold Wet Day: An Innkeeper’s Journal

Cold, Wet Day

JUNE 2015:

DAY ONE: We are alone in the Inn. No overnight guests, no breakfast to make. We think about tackling our living quarters. There are floors that still need washing, boxes to unpack, our daughter’s room to get ready, a doggy smelling carpet to shampoo. But it is raw and cold outside and the bed is warm, and so is the coffee Rich brewed and delivered to me, so we stay in bed watching a Netflix documentary on Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead on my laptop set up on a breakfast-in-bed tray nestled between us.

By late afternoon, Rich gets motivated and brings home subs from a small Italian pizza place in town where the new owner gives him a free bowl of pasta fagioli while he waits. I had already made lentil soup. Soup and more soup still can’t warm my bones so we go back upstairs to take a nap then watch a Jimi Hendrix documentary.

“The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye…” ~ Jimi Hendrix

DAY TWO: Another cold, chilly morning. It is also the first day we meet Winter. Bundled up in a sweater and fleece jacket, I sit at the desk in the kitchen and place an order for maple syrup. Winter Mead is all gruff Yankee on the phone. A man who doesn’t waste words.

When I ask, “Do I just write you a check or do we have an account?”, he replies, “Theeeey always wrote a check.”

Rich has a completely different experience out in the driveway when an hour later Winter delivers three gallon jugs of maple syrup. They spend a half hour discussing sugaring. Winter tells stories of snowshoeing through three feet of snow to drill taps and hang buckets.

“It’s a hard way to make a living the older you get,” Winter says. They move on to comparing fly fishing on the Housatonic versus ice fishing on the Squamscott and digging for oysters on Great Bay. “I don’t like the oysters,” Winter says.

Rich tells him about working at a fish hatchery his senior year in high school. “Those guys who fill the ponds, they fuck everything up,“ Winter says.

Just like the season he is named for he is terse and to the point, but a fire burns inside and once his interest is sparked he warms to the conversation.

DAY THREE: The smell of apple smoked bacon that we buy from a smokehouse in Torrington fills the bedroom when Rich opens the door to deliver my morning cup of joe. I am supposed to stay in bed today because I seem to have experienced a set back. My feet are killing me, probably because I am on them too much throughout the day. But how can I not be?

“Companionship is the strengthening of two neighboring solitudes” ~ Rilke

DAY FOUR: Another rainy morning in bed when no one is here requiring omelets or pancakes. I can’t remember sunshine, warmth, sweat.

The Internet is spotty. The first few days we were here, when I couldn’t connect, in those first minutes and hours when I was unable to Instagram or check email or Tweet or post what was on my mind, I became agitated and angry but it quickly passed. So quickly I was amazed.

Rich is also agitated and it isn’t passing quickly. He needs TV.

“I haven’t watched golf in a month. I used to watch it every day.”

He takes to reading the Hartford Courant each morning but it doesn’t fill his needs.

Driving through a tunnel of trees on the road from Goshen to Canaan feels claustrophobic after Florida. A white church steeple rises against a backdrop of gray sky and soft rolling hills. Hundreds of cows in a long, well-lit barn get ready for bed. Each stall creates a photograph in the dark night. I do not make Rich stop so I can snap the photo and put it on Instagram.

Despite the long hours, there is a serenity to our days, but then suddenly I am overwhelmed and anxious. There are so many things to do and with two broken feet I can’t do even half of them. The tears well up.

It started when my daughter missed her flight in Denver. She is coming to spend the summer with us. I am moving from room to room to find the hot spot where the Internet works on my laptop. Painfully I make my way to the screened-in porch where the cell phone gets reception so I can coach her through her airport negotiations. How can everything, absolutely everything in this Inn be fucked up??

I am ragged in my bones. I want to get in the car and drive to the coast. A front porch, a rocking chair, an endless vista, a mimosa. I want to be the one on vacation.

A memory pops into my mind of the rings at Santa Monica Beach. My oldest daughter was eight or nine. I can see her swinging from ring to ring, her hands blistering, back and forth, gracefully making the turn three times until she dropped in the sand. A group of athletic young men stood up and clapped. I asked how she mastered it. “You need to build momentum,” she said.

White feathery puff balls float across the backyard, drifting on thermals. We don’t know where they come from. They look like dandelions but there are no dandelions in the yard. Some stick to the screen on the porch before a breeze lifts them up and they rise above the lawn, floating up and away.

Optimism is not a steady burning candle. It flickers and sometimes the winds of the day blow out the flame. I am worn out. I have lost my momentum. I close my eyes and sink. Today I cannot rise with the thermals.

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