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“He Done It Arright!”

September 4, 2011

“He Done It Arright!”

 

A few decades ago, when the stock market was a bit more stable and our heavenly fathers at the Windham Foundation showered the Old Tavern with what now seem to be inconceivable luxuries, we kept an antique carriage collection, a pair of Belgian draft horses and a carriage master. Carriage rides leaving from the inn were available both mornings and afternoons and provided the public a unique and delightful way to see the town.

The elderly carriage master, a Mr. Reynes, was heir to the wisdom of generations of Vermont farmers, and while a bit bent with age, his calloused hands were strong and knowing. His quiet but certain manner was understood and respected by the great beasts that drew the carriage even as he, having worked with such animals all his life, understood and respected them.

Mr. Lord was the boss of Mr. Reynes, and Mr. Lord knew very little about horses and probably even less about Mr. Reynes, whose quiet nature he interpreted as a sign of stupidity. For this reason, his commands were issued with cold abruptness (rudeness, some might think) but were received without resentment by Mr. Reynes who immediately set about doing whatever had been demanded. It should be said that Mr. Lord did have some impressive talents which helped to balance his lesser side, and in this story, it was his skill in antique restoration that concerns us.

During one of our classic Vermont winters, while Mr. Reynes and his faithful team, day after day, pulled a sled full of cheery folk through the snow-covered fields of Grafton, Mr. Lord was working on a masterpiece. It was a magnificent antique carriage – a spacious four-seater with a fringed canopy. With painstaking care, Mr. Lord restored the venerable vehicle, taking until early spring to complete the work, and, once the end was in sight, invitations were sent to area dignitaries to celebrate the unveiling. The response was enthusiastic, and the event was scheduled for a Sunday afternoon in late May. Champagne and hors d’oeuvres were to be served.

As it happened, the day was perfect, and Mr. Reynes spent most of the morning grooming his Belgians and polishing the leather harness and brass hardware until nothing remained on which to improve. Even the horses hooves had been washed and shined. By 3 p.m., about 50 dignitaries, dressed in the height of summer fashion, had assembled by the entry way to the Windham Foundation offices. Corks popped. Waitstaff poured wine and passed trays of delicious nibbles. Mr. Lord was in his glory, describing in exact detail many of the most challenging aspects of the restoration, when down the street came Mr. Reynes and the carriage. He turned in the driveway, executed a semi-circle and backed up the carriage at a 45 degree angle to the assembly. The carriage itself had been draped in four white sheets which had been stitched together, and now fluttered tantalizingly in the breeze. Mr. Reynes climbed down and stood respectfully off to the side.

The then-president of the Windham Foundation gave a short speech describing the work of the organization and its desire to preserve a “country way of life” for the generations to come. In particular, he praised Mr. Lord for his expertise in the matter of carriages and horses. As the speech ended, Mr. Lord stepped up and pulled the drape off the carriage. The crowd drew an audible breath at the spectacle before them, and, as the applause swelled, the horses came to rigid attention. They shifted their hooves nervously and snorted once or twice, and no one seemed to notice as Mr. Reynes stepped up, stroked their necks and spoke to them  soothingly. When the audience had quieted down, Mr. Lord suggested that some of the company might enjoy trying the carriage. At this point, a voice in the crowd  (someone HAD been observing the horses) asked Mr. Lord if he was entirely confident in the two great beasts. “Oh, heavens, yes!”he answered, “They’re as docile as sheep.”

And with that, he reached into a trash container at hand, picked out a soda can and tossed it towards the horses. It bounced lightly off the haunch of one, causing both to give a nervous jerk. The harness jostled. At this point, so softly that hardly anyone could hear, Mr. Reynes spoke. “I wouldn’t do that if I was you, sir.”

Mr. Lord had been corrected by an underling!!!

Instantly, he was beside himself with rage, and, in a moment of irrational defiance, he plucked another can from the trash and sent it flying. This can did not have the thoughtful direction of the other, and with a resounding “boink,” struck one of the Belgians right on the head. Both horses reared up, jerking the halter from Mr. Reynes’ hand, and even before their front legs hit the ground, the carriage was in forward motion. As the frightened animals tore off, they jerked suddenly a few feet to the left, managing to situate between them one of the granite posts that lined the drive. That carriage might just have well been made of tissue paper. The sharp cracking of the front axle and the disemboweling of the carriage happened in a second. Wood went flying in all directions. The front wheels careened off and flopped over on the lawn, and the horses, left with only the shafts attached to them, continued running until they disappeared behind the Foundation barns. The company was frozen in place. Astonished, embarrassed and confused, they stared ahead, some at the wreckage, some at Mr. Lord who seemed totally immobilized by what he had done.

Suddenly, a male voice, affecting the earthy Vermont accent of Mr. Reynes, came from the hitherto silent guests.

“Well…..he done it, sir; he done it arright!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Old Tavern Tale of Horror…and Medicine to Cure

July 28, 2011

It was just about this time of year, now some 28 years ago, that I had an experience here at The Old Tavern which was at once painful and preposterous, but with the passage of years can now been viewed as rather amusing.

Back then, the Windham Foundation (our parent company) had purchased a property called “the Johnson House” which was located high above the village on Middletown Hill at a distance of 1/2 mile from the inn, and was accessed by a steep dirt road.

The house had been renovated in such a way as to create 7 rooms with private baths and was then given to the inn as a rental property. We knew immediately that we had been given a nightmare, and indeed, there was many a snowy evening when I could be found trying to extract cars from the deep ditches or fishtailing at top speed in the inn’s big Suburban, loaded with guests and baggage, all the way up Middletown Hill. We did our duty however, and over time, several of our more adventurous guests came to love the rooms there.

At any rate, one very warm summer afternoon, a lady stepped through the front door of the inn. The expression on her face was pleasant enough but clearly tempered by bewilderment. One knew immediately that she had never been far outside her urban environment, and Grafton village with its antique architecture, the close surrounding hills so densely forested, and the total absence of a bustling life style were as foreign to her as would have been the moon.

Her excitement, both nervous and happy, was palpable, and as I went through the check-in procedure with her, I did my best to be reassuring and calm. My heart sank when I saw that her room was to be in the Johnson House. Still smiling and chatting, I frantically scanned the reservations book for some other room. None, of course. I got out our little map to the Johnson House, and as I explained it to her, I knew that this would not do. No, absolutely not. I took her to the front door of the inn. Looking with her up the street and making gestures like a traffic cop, I pointed directly at the road she was to take. Several times I told her, “It is just half mile. The house is on the left and there are no other houses nearby.” Finally, I managed to convince myself that she would be okay.

Some two hours later, I glanced up from my work and, looking out the front screen door, saw her again approaching the inn. To my satisfaction, she was right on time for her dinner reservation. I glanced up again when I heard the door shut as she entered, and, as she emerged from the glare of the sunlight behind her, I froze in horror. Her face, now red and sweaty, was locked in a soundless howl of despair. Her hair was a tangle, her arms a mass of scratches, and her summer dress was ripped in many places. In one hand, she still clutched the map I had given her. I raced around the desk to get to her before the dam burst, but I was too late and the flood hit me front and center. With heartrending sobs, the poor creature just collapsed. My mind was racing. What in the world had happened to her? – assault, robbery, rabid animals?? What?? What??

As I gathered over the next half hour of challenging conversation……..her car had been parked in back of the inn, and by the time she had driven out of the parking lot and up to the corner (a distance of some 100 yards, if that) she was disoriented. She then referred to the map but did not realize that she was holding it upside down, so she turned right instead of left, headed down Main Street and turned onto Kidder Hill Road. Kidder Hill has a dirt road, just as does Middletown Hill, and this dear lady remembered the “dirt” element and felt therefore that all was well. Within a mile, the road had shrunk to a mere Jeep trail, but on she went. When the trail became a path and her car had driven over a few saplings, she realized that things had gone wrong. Panic set in. Perhaps if she had chosen to back out the way she had come there would have been a chance of success, but “reverse” was not her specialty, so she decided to turn the car around. Bad!

Having rolled backwards down a small embankment, she came to rest in a raspberry patch. One can imagine her desperate state of mind as she struggled to open the door and clambered out into the brambles which made short work of her stockings, legs, dress and arms. (Her heart-rending sobs at this part of the story made it almost impossible to understand her) But she managed to regain the path and, in her party pumps, walked all the way back to the inn.

“You wait right here,” I said, “I’m going to get you some medicine.” An icy gin and tonic (extra gin, extra lime) proved a most efficacious remedy, steadying her hands and lightening her spirit. I then drove her to the Johnson House, got her to her room and started a bath. Then, after calling a wrecker from the inn, I headed up Kidder Hill, found her car, retrieved her bags and brought them to her.

One hour later and yet another martini, and our lady was adopting the air of heroine-adventurer. She ate dinner with gusto and regaled her server with all the details of her mishap. The scratches became her red badge of courage, and the dress a proud, battered flag of battle. For my part, I looked longingly at the gin bottle, wishing it could truly qualify as medicine just this once.

Old Tavern Magic

July 3, 2011

“Old Tavern Magic”

Rummaging around in my trunk full of Old Tavern memories and reflections, I have found one that, while of no particular importance – or relevance – is, none-the-less curious enough to warrant a telling.

Just a couple of years after I founded The Old Tavern Concert Series (now some 25 years ago), I received a call from a musician whom I had known during the time I taught at The Putney School. Her name is Sarah Cantor – now a Boston-based recorder player of renown – who, at the time of this tale, was a graduate student at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague,  the Netherlands. Recalling our friendship at Putney, she was hoping I might be interested in booking her baroque music trio during their upcoming summer tour in the USA. Indeed I was, and we set a date immediately. When the date came we had a wonderful concert, but of special interest to me was one of the ensemble members, a Dutchman and classmate of Sarah’s  named Wouter Verschuren (do not try pronouncing this name at home, kids). Wouter (Vow-ter, well – that’s not too bad) was gracious enough to speak Dutch with me, and, at that time, I hadn’t had much chance to try this language in real-life situations. It was both exciting and gratifying and gave me a special sense of friendship with Wouter. As it happened, the same ensemble performed in Grafton the following year, and once again Wouter spent quite a bit of time helping me with my Dutch. As the third year rolled around, the ensemble members had all finished their conservatory studies and had thus scattered far and wide looking for employment. Sadly, no more concerts from that conformation were to be had.

End of story? Not quite. Allow the passage of another 3 years, and, during the spring closing of the inn, I took my vacation – on this occasion, a short trip to Holland during the 3rd week of March, the deadest time of the year for tourists (it can be especially rainy and raw, and the tulips do not usually bloom for another three weeks).

After landing at 7AM in Amsterdam, even before finding a room, I headed for the main concert hall to check-out the week’s offerings. Oh my gosh!

That very night there was to be a one-time performance of a re-creation of J.S Bachs’ Saint Luke Passion, which had been realized by Toon Koopman, the famous Dutch musicologist, organist and harpsichordist. What luck!! I rushed around to the ticket window, and in my best Dutch, ordered a ticket. “Oh, the concert has been sold-out for a month” was the reply. I was horrified, but I struggled on in Dutch, explaining to the  two ladies behind the window that I was a huge fan of Dutch culture, as they could probably hear from my impassioned brutalization of their language. They were shaking their heads, but I could not take “no” for an answer. As I got more and more worked up,  I think they became alarmed that I might burst into tears, and they suddenly turned to the seating chart behind them and did a lot of whispering. When they turned back to me, they grimly made this offer: there were no proper seats left, that was final – however, while being obliged to charge me the full ticket price (it was expensive!), they could give me one of the ushers chairs. This chair, they explained, was right next to the musicians’ entrance to the stage area, but from this seat, I could see nothing of the performance.

Well, what I wanted to do was hear the music – seeing was secondary. I took the offer, and they hand-wrote my special ticket. Thanking them profusely – first in Dutch as best I could, then in English to be sure they understood how truly grateful I was, I headed off into the city. In my celebratory mood, I made straight to a cafe, had a light breakfast and spent about an hour just drinking strong Dutch coffee and smoking a Schimmelpennick (NO! – don’t try this one either!)

After a most pleasurable day, all of which was enhanced by knowing what a special treat awaited me that evening, I made my way to the concert hall. The usher looked very strangely at the ticket and sort of frowned. “Oh lord,” I thought, “I’ve been given this guy’s seat.” He finally directed me down a side aisle, “All the way to the front, the seat is right beside the door.” Okay. As I approached the seat, the stage did vanish completely. I settled in, more than content with what I had, and began reading the program. I had just finished the notes when the house lights dimmed and I heard footsteps. The first of many musicians to come stepped through the narrow door and on up the circular staircase to the stage. They were so close to me that I had to pull in my feet lest I trip someone. Formal dresses and tuxedos only.

Faces seemed bright and eager. Suddenly I stiffened and leaned forward…A young man had stepped through the door with a bassoon in his hands. “Wouter?” I whispered, “Wouter??”

“Bill!” came the answer….

“What are YOU doing here?” And then he was gone. Yes, it was Wouter!

“What on earth! ” I thought to myself, “How can this be?”

Once the last musician had passed by me, I scanned the front rows such as I could see, and, indeed, there were a couple of empty chairs – no doubt reserved for season ticket holders who found themselves unable to make this particular concert.  Assuring myself that it would be criminal to let these seats go unused, I discreetly slipped into one and had the perfect view of the entire orchestra.  The music and performance were extraordinary, but no more so than the surreal circumstances that led me to that usher’s seat. Had I been anywhere but there, I’m sure I never would have realized that Wouter was part of that orchestra. During our merry reunion following the concert, we tried to make sense of how such a thing could have happened, and what was the only plausible explanation?? – the obvious one….Old Tavern Magic!

Touching Real and Artificial Hearts in Grafton, Vermont

June 2, 2011

Touching Real and Artificial Hearts in Grafton, Vermont

Bill’s Curious Old Tavern Tales

Old timers used to say that if you stay in one place long enough, the whole world will pass your door. Well, I’ve been here at The Old Tavern quite some time, and while nothing as grand as the whole world has passed my door, many a thing “wondrous strange” has, and I’d like to tell you of some of these occurrences – great and small. One tale at a time, of course. Why not start with the most recent?

Shortly after we reopened the inn this spring, I had just come to work at 4 pm and, as is my custom, went to the front desk immediately to assess the level of business and to survey the list of arriving guests.

As I was standing there, a couple approached, bags in hand, obviously ready to check in. I asked for their names. – Dr. and Mrs. Jack Kolff.

As Dr. Kolff was signing the register, I asked, “I don’t recall ever having seen the name Kolff. Is it by any chance Dutch in origin?” “Dat zeker, meneer! Kolff is echt Nederlands!” (“Most certainly, sir. Kolff is authentic Netherlands!”) came the reply. This was a surprise since Dr. K’s English was pure American, but it was just this moment of surprise that prompted me, without thinking, to reply to him in Dutch.

I have been studying Dutch for years – an odd but entirely explicable hobby whose story I’ll save for another day.

Well, this exchange initiated a delightful conversation joined as well by Pat Kolff, who has mastered quite nicely the intricacies of the Dutch language. Exciting as it was, I couldn’t let myself go on too long, as the Kolffs had been traveling and needed simply to unwind. After all, the very reason so many guests come to Grafton is for rest and recuperation.  Later that evening, however, when our conversation continued and our personal stories were unfolding, Pat turned to Jack and said, “Tell him about your Dad, Jack.”

As it turns out, Jack’s Dad was Dr. Willem “Pim” Kolff, the man who invented the kidney dialysis machine, the heart lung machine, and the artificial heart, and his inventions have saved – and are still saving – millions of lives. In the medical world he is known as the “Father of Artificial Organs.” It is challenging just to consider the brilliance of a mind that could conceive of such amazing machines, but when one knows that the dialysis machine was born during the time of the German occupation of Holland and that, because of a lack of materials, the prototype was constructed using sausage casings, discarded tin cans, and other simple stuff….well, it seems almost super-human.

The Dutch are a resourceful lot, and Dr. W. Kolff found ways of using his hospital in Kampen, Holland, not only to treat seriously sick people but to save several hundred souls destined for concentration camps in Germany. I do believe, however, that it is characteristic of the Dutch that even at the height of their cultural achievements, they most often have their feet planted firmly in the ground, knowing who they are and what they are about. Certainly this seemed to be the case with Dr. W. Kolff who, despite trunks full of medals and numerous doctorates, as well as being nominated three times for a Nobel Prize, never for a minute lost sight of his life-saving goals.

I was deeply moved by what Jack and Pat Kolff told me, and only a few days after their visit, a package arrived containing the biography of Dr. Willem Kolff titled, Inventor for Life. But there is more to this story.

You should know that Dr. Jack Kolff had a very distinguished career as a cardiac surgeon. In fact it was he who was responsible for solving the challenging problem of how to fit the artificial heart, invented by his father, into the human chest cavity. Jack’s specialty was heart transplant and by-pass surgery, and while much of his career was spent in Philadelphia, he worked for a few years in Holland. Well, it was two weeks after the Kolffs’ departure from the inn that, on a busy Friday night, with all tables in the Barn pub filled, a party of six people arrived. I was trying my best to figure out how I might seat them, and in speaking to the patriarch of the group, I noticed his Dutch accent. I then addressed him in Dutch, and we commenced to have a most interesting conversation during the course of which, I told him of my recent experience with Dr. Kolff. He listened intently and then turned suddenly to his wife. After a few moments he turned back to me with a delighted expression on his face. “You know”, he said, “about 35 years ago, Dr. Jack Kolff performed emergency open heart surgery on my wife’s sister in Leiden, Holland. She was three months pregnant, and both she and the baby came through just fine!!”

What a world! Right here in little Grafton – right here at The Old Tavern…..if you just wait long enough!

High Adventure in Little Grafton

May 2, 2011

A touching missing (and found) dog story, plus our tribute to the Royal Wedding

Every year when vacation time rolls around, I am slowly but surely possessed by “Separation from the Garden of Eden Syndrome.” I do not expect this phenomenon to be understood by most of the working world, for I have had a life marked by extraordinary good luck. Surely having a great job in a centuries-old country inn situated in what is arguably the most beautiful town in New England, plus having been raised in this neighborhood and then returning here to raise my own children, well……this is the stuff of fairy tales.

So, back to vacation. With the inn shut down, my social life ends.  I am, after all, a native son, a Vermonter, and without a defined role for me to play, I always feel awkward in conventional social circumstances. I’m a home body, content with my dogs, books, music and, of course, the land. About 10 days into my happy vacation, the phone rang. It was a next door neighbor (about a mile away as the crow flies) and it was truly a moment of distress. Julie is a wonderful, warm-hearted woman, and I have known her for a long time. Our kids grew up together and were good friends, and, in our household conversations, Julie always was voted “the perfect homemaker.” Nowadays, her beautiful nest is generally empty, and seeking the special companionship that a dog can bring, Julie had arranged to become owner of a young, though mature, Bichon Frise. This petite, curly haired breed is known for being especially friendly, but this particular dog, now two years old, had had, through unusual circumstances, very little interaction with people. So, Julie traveled personally to the kennel with every intention of giving this shy, lonely creature all the love it would need to blossom into the companion she longed for.

Arriving back at her mountain-top home, Julie fastened the leash to the dog’s collar, lifted it out of its crate and down from the car. As she attempted to lead it into the house the dog jerked back in fright, forcing the collar off over its head then dashing down the dirt road and off into the snow-filled woods! You can imagine Julie’s sense of panic! She drove down the road stopping frequently to call out…..what??  What could one call when the little thing didn’t even have a name? It was gone. By the end of the day, Julie had contacted all her neighbors, the state police, the local police, the area road crews, the village schools and the village store. Word spreads fast in a small town, and by mid-morning of the following day, absolutely everyone knew of Julie’s plight and sympathized with her. Day after day went by. By the close of the third day, despite a growing sense that things were not going to end well, the litte dog was sighted outside another hill-top home about two miles from Julie’s place. She went rushing over with tempting morsels and high hopes, but again the poor thing dashed off into the woods and was gone.

While no one would think of mentioning such a thing in Julie’s presence, the perils this small dog faced were considerable. Not only was the snow still deep (though the crust that had formed would likely support a creature of 10 - 12 lbs.) and the night time temperatures well below freezing, but foxes, coydogs, fisher cats, bobcats or newly awakened bears would all welcome a Bichon Frise snack!

Julie called me at around 8 pm of the fourth day of the search and left a message. A sighting had been reported to her about 2 miles from my house. I got her message at about 11 pm and immediately went outside with my two dogs, Sophie and Luke, to see if they might detect anything; but no. The weather report was for nighttime temps. of below 20 degrees. I went to bed with sad and anxious thoughts.

It was 6 am when I let the dogs out again. Almost immediately, Sophie set up a great clamor. I rushed outside where she, nose high in the air, was scurrying back and forth but not really focusing on anything. I searched the general area and concluded that a deer or moose had passed through the yard shortly before. Back to breakfast preparations. Again a doggy outburst - this time close by the house. I went to the window. Sophie was now very focused , and, following her point, I stared intently into the grey light. There, about 15 feet away, curled up in a leafy pocket between two rocks was a shivering, tattered little mop of a dog. Its head was down, and it made no response to Sophie’s barking. I ran out and grabbed Sophie who is a great play dog but was surely freaked by the fact that this odd creature was not reacting to her in any way. With Sophie secured in the house, I slowly approached the new arrival . It lifted its head, and I could hear a low, steady growl, alerting me to the likelihood of another flight into the wilderness. Instinctively, I sat down. Lord! That ground was cold!! How had this poor creature survived? Over the next few minutes, keeping up a steady steam of soft, encouraging words, I inched closer and closer. Finally I extended my hand for the “sniff check” ; there was none. Exhaustion, shock or both had drained most of the dog’s energy. I touched its ear. I touched its head. Still no reaction except for heavy shivering. So I began, very gently, to stroke it. About the fourth time, I slipped my hand beneath its body and drew it towards me. It seemed feather-light. I had not taken time to put on a jacket, and the warmth of my body must have felt like heaven, for I could detect no resistance. I stood up slowly, walked to the back door and entered the kitchen.

Just as the psychic had said. Yup. Julie had also consulted a psychic who had been used by the New York State police for various projects. She had “seen” that the dog would be found alive, and she could “see” a man carrying the dog into a kitchen. (I hope that she did not “see” that I had not cleaned my kitchen in days!). Anyway, I put the critter down right beside the woodstove, and while my two sweet-tempered dogs gently sniffed at the new arrival, I phoned Julie with the good news. It was about 6:20 am, but Julie was on the phone after one ring. I doubt that she slept much at all throughout this ordeal. She’s surely sleeping better now, and this lucky dog is in for some pampering such as no dog has ever known!

Before saying goodbye for this month, I found that as I returned to my post at The Old Tavern, a real frenzy was mounting over the British royal wedding. In that the inn has many 18th and 19th century antiques in its collection (including our president who just retired) – it seems proper that we should acknowledge this grand marriage in some way. Lodging, food and drink are our specialties, and, while our pub serves a sublime plate of fish and chips, if I were to pick one of these three as the most fitting to offer as tribute to a wedding, it would have to be drink. A good drink is not only a “bracer” to help stay afloat on the wild waves of marriage, but, consumed in moderation, an aphrodisiac, a tranquilizer or……. consumed in excess, a refuge in the rest-home of the subconscious. You can’t lose! So, here’s a warm-weather drink for Will and Kate, created here in little Grafton, with our best wishes!

The Royal Coachman

fill a 10 oz hi-ball glass with ice

add 2 oz Chambord Royale

top with fine sparkling water

garnish with thick wedge of lime

(be sure to crush the lime and plunge it into the drink to get the right balance of sweet and tart)

Spring: Messy, Muddy, Beautiful

April 6, 2011

Spring is a messy thing – a real hurly-burly of everything that nature knows. Mud is essential – and frost and snow and sudden bursts of summer warmth that crush the heart of winter with blinding light on the still snowy fields.

That’s how it is every year in Grafton, VT at this time, and, in The Old Tavern, we wonder at the sleepiness that spreads like an enchantment over the inn. Where are the guests? They were here last fall when the world blazed up in its end-of-season glory and throughout the endless snow of winter. And that is why we close for a short time at the end of March / early April.

But now is the time of rebirth when the earth’s children emerge from their winter womb – sometimes shyly like the snowdrop, that miracle of endurance, or boldly like the daffodils, stabbing their green spears through the mat of dead leaves to then unpack their brilliant, yellow choir of silent trumpets.

Where are the guests when the cardinals, the robins, the black-cap chickadees and all the huge feathered family go mad with spring song? Where are they when, unseen in the heart of the forest, the wood thrush begins anew variations on the infinite variations they have created for a thousand years or more?

These are miracles, truly miracles!

And so often, in The Old Tavern, it is the cook who turns to the waitress, who turns to the clerk, who turns to the housekeeper who then finds the innkeepers who have in their company the few guests that everyone is looking for, and over tea and cookies they all share tales of the wonders they have seen in the birthing of a new world.

Was it the woodcock, practically invisible in the dry grass by the walking trails at Grafton Ponds, or the kettle of hawks circling in the blue sky above Bear Hill, the shy fox stalking mice in the meadow, the sheep and their exuberant lambs nibbling the tender new grass? Or was it trees? The glorious flowering of maples, black cherry, ash and the exquisite white clouds of shad?

There is no end to the miracles of spring, and for us – we whose lives are lived at The Old Tavern and whose fulfillment is to share the joy and excitement of our world with those who come here for retreat and renewal, there is no time like springtime.

After a short two week break, we’re back in operation on April 14. Please join us in celebrating the rejuvenation of a new season in Vermont, in Grafton and at the inn.

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