THE BUSY SUMMER SEASON: An Innkeeper’s Journal


The bus driver is sleeping in Le Chambre. Chris Robinson, formerly of the Black Crowes and ex-husband of Kate Hudson, Goldie Hawn’s daughter, drives him over at three so he can sleep while the band performs at Infinity Hall tonight. Chris is very tall and very thin. Rich also runs into him coming out of Haystack Pizza with food for the band and the roadies. Despite his celebrity he runs his own errands.

The following weekend the Marshall Tucker Band is in town. Their fans are wine drinkers so I restock the lounge with our complementary red and white wine. We saw the band at the Hampton Beach Casino several years ago and were disappointed Doug Gray had lost his voice and couldn’t hit those high notes anymore. At breakfast the next morning several guests agree.

Fans of the Little River Band check in on a Thursday night. They bring their own Coronas. A few of them are sharing rooms with friends and ask for air mattresses. We hadn’t approved this but the former innkeeper booked the rooms and we deal with it.

Fireflies flit across the lawn, a dog barks in the distance, a car speeds along the back road past the church behind the trees, headlights sparkling on the stained glass windows. Watching from my Tudor style mansion I feel like I am living in a Fitzgerald novel although I wouldn’t be working this hard if I were a character in one of F. Scott’s novels. The driveway buzzer beeps. Another guest has arrived. We get up and go out to the main room to greet them.

My older daughter and her boyfriend are visiting and have made up a song titled Stranded in Connecticut, the Land That Time Forgot. They are fascinated with the flashbacks to a time before they were born. The lines at the Dairy Queen, the old bowling alley, the silver diner, the abandoned factories. Heading off each day on walks with their dog, Sonny Migos Liston, a Boxer, they return with incredulous stories.

“A guy in the grocery store bought a hundred dollars worth of food and used coupons at the self check-out line. He walked out only spending thirty dollars.”

The kitchen is always cooking. People eat different foods at different times of the day. The kids sleep late, even our younger daughter who is spending the summer with us as Head of Housekeeping. Check-out is at eleven and Rich is not good with sharing the kitchen when he is making breakfast so we don’t need her until the rooms have been vacated.

One morning in the full dining room a guy loudly complains about the lack of Kleenex in his room. I tell him we must have missed that and apologize. He’s spending a second night so I replace his Kleenex when I “fluff” his room. The next morning he is mad the alarm clock was unplugged. Rich says, “Well that’s better than it going off at four in the morning, isn’t it?” The complainer grudgingly admits he never thought of that.

A short while later I pick up dirty towels that were tossed down the back stairs and step backwards thinking I am on the last step but there are two steps to go. I fall on my ass and my elbows, both my newly healed ankles tingling with an electric shock. It’s amazing how often your ankles are part of the motion. Throwing a towel up to Rich at the top of the stairs, reaching to grab a plate that is teetering on the edge of the counter and about to fall on the floor, stepping back when someone almost bumps into you. You never notice the muscles and joints you use until they’re broken and they stretch and ache when asked to react quickly.

A woman calls on a Wednesday for a room on Thursday. She says she’s been on the road for several weeks and is wondering if she can check in early. The room is clean so I tell her she can come anytime. She arrives at ten in the morning with a man her age and leaves at 6:30 in the evening, never to return. Afternoon delight? An illicit affair? I guess I’ll never know but a month later she emails to tell me her and her husband went for a hike at Campbell Falls and he broke his ankle. They spent the afternoon in the emergency room and then decided to go home.

We have a full house on a Tuesday night. Hot Tuna is playing at Infinity. Our guests are aging hippies. The name is familiar but I can’t think of a single song they play. Rich tells me they are connected to the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. I listen to a few songs on You Tube and realize why I can’t remember any of their songs. I don’t really like them. The old Hippies drink wine and enjoy the peace and solitude of the backyard.

If we have a CD of the band that is in town we like to play their music from our own CD collection. One night a couple came to see Robert Cray and were so impressed with this small gesture they mentioned it in their Trip Advisor review. I know I don’t have Hot Tuna. I search for Jefferson Starship or the Dead. How do we not have Jerry and the boys? We must have lost the CD’s on one of our many moves from New Hampshire to two different apartments in Florida to Connecticut. One guy who is attending the show tells me, “You’ll have to rectify that situation.”

Outside in the gardens I cut flowers and place them in a basket. Pink and white Shasta daisies, light and dark pink phlox, Queen Anne’s Lace. I fill five vases at the sink in the pantry and stare out the window at a neighborhood cat sitting on the picnic table admiring the garden. I decide in my next life I would like to come back as a spoiled house cat.

A couple from the Bronx is staying three nights mid-week. They brought an old boom box and play Barry White in their room. They drink wine on the outdoor patio and invite us to join them. When they leave we hug and they tell us they had the time of their lives and were in need of some romancing.

On a Tuesday morning I wake early. For the first time in over two weeks we don’t have to cook someone breakfast or check someone in later in the afternoon. Rich brings me coffee in bed. I buy Raymond Carver’s What We Mean When We Talk About Love on my Kindle and read the first story.

The calm peace returns. The feeling I had when I first arrived. Most days I am busy with breakfast and always misplace my coffee cup. It is cold when I get back to it so I freshen up the half full mug with hot coffee from the pot only to wander away from it before even having so much as a sip, distracted by the numerous tasks I perform each morning; refilling the small crystal pitchers we use for maple syrup, buttering the toast which has just popped from the toaster, attending to the buzzing dryer that reminds me the towels are dry and need folding, arranging fruit on plates that are ready to go.

Today my coffee is strong and hot. I think I would like to stay in bed all day reading and writing which I haven’t had the time to do but there are beds to make and sheets to fold. The owner is coming at ten for our weekly meeting. We have told him Tuesdays are consistently one of the only full day’s off. No breakfast, no check-in. He tells us Tuesdays don’t work for him, but that is a story for another day.


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