The Blue Horse Inn Retreat and Wellness Center

Somehow the summer just keeps going by. I want it to last forever, but of course it won’t. It isn’t that I really love summer, or that I want it to actually last forever — who in their right mind would wish to prolong the sweltering heat, the 87% humidity, the giant tufts of cat hair that roll down the hallway like tumbleweeds across the plain … but it’s the feeling of summer, and what it recalls. For me, I think it’s a sense of anticipation: for summer camp, for visits to my grandmother’s house, for seeing cousins, for pleasure reading, for the sound of home made ice cream cranking on the porch. There’s a certain sense of freedom that accompanies the season; I think it’s probably a hold over from school days past, when there was nothing sweeter than that last half day before the start of summer vacation, and then that sense of lightness as I walked out the front doors, waved goodbye to my friends, and got in the car to go home. That feeling lasted about half an hour, before I got home and realized there was nothing to do except sit around watching endless loops of Days of Our Lives and Another World, fretting over Bo and Hope, Cass and Cecile and, oh, Felicia Gallant! Marlena Evans Brady! I remember the summers of my growing up with fondness, anticipating the big events that I knew were coming.

I still feel like there are a few hallmark events of summer, though sometimes it’s easier for them to sneak up on me, appear ordinary until they are over and I realize, with pleasure and surprise, that that was what I had been waiting for. Last year it was a magical week spent in Memphis, when the stars aligned and, though she might describe things differently, I got to spend a wonderful week with my mother and lots of quality time — wholly unanticipated — with Madge and her family, remembering Ray. Times like those — I want them to last forever. But of course nothing does, despite my attempts to put on the brakes, pressing that invisible pedal like mom used to do when I was learning to drive her enormous Suburban in the parking lot of South Panola High School — another memory of summer. What I had been anticipating this year, and what I wanted to last forever, was the week I just spent in Woodstock, VT: a week of rest and writing at the Blue Horse Inn.

My visit began with an evening with Jay Nash and Garrison Starr at the Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction. Jay is a new Vermont transplant and a friend of the Blue Horse Inn, and Garrison lives in L.A. but grew up near me and I had actually seen her perform as part of a duo during a chapel service at my high school almost twenty years ago. It is a small, small world indeed. They put on a fantastic show, and we were lucky enough to have them join us for Sunday brunch. Check out their music above or on iTunes.

The image quality is terrible, but you get the gist.

I had three goals for the week: read every day, write every day, and exercise every day. Some friends helped me achieve these goals. Meet Mary.

She helped me read one day, as did the beautiful Vermont sunshine and a swimming pool.

Here are a few shots of the grounds at the BHI; they inspired me in my pursuits.

The pool and tennis court from the back porch.

Guests enjoying the clay tennis court.

A view of the back porch, with its tables for dining/working, and rocking chairs aplenty.

Here I am accomplishing one of my goals in one of those wonderful rockers.

Don’t be fooled by my long pants and hoodie; it was only chilly the first weekend, when this photo was taken. Otherwise, the sun (when it wasn’t crying, a forecast I have yet to understand) was in fine form, as it was when I snapped these pictures of the Ottauquechee River and its neighbor, the pool.

Here are a couple of the Inn (and part of the fire pit) from the back yard.

I spent some time on the front porch, too, sitting in the Adirondack chairs, which were deceptively comfy.

The church across the street.

My glass of wine kept jumping into the pictures, like that garden gnome in Amélie.

On a morning that turned out to be particularly productive for writing, breakfast was delivered to my room by the chef herself!

Speaking of my room … the bedroom was wonderful.

But the sitting room, oh … the sitting room. I moved in.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that we took ourselves too seriously. We played with Keri’s new iPhone, including the Fat Booth app, which I had never heard of. Jeremy’s reply when I sent him this picture? “You look happy.”

That picture inspired me to work on my third goal. I jogged several days using the RunKeeper app, and we also hiked Mt. Peg and Mt. Tom, each affording different (and stunning) views of Woodstock Village.

Mt. Peg was a relatively short hike, no more than forty-five minutes to the summit. Mt. Tom was much higher and rockier, about a five and a half mile trek round trip. It was a clear day when we did Mt. Tom, less gray as we followed the helpful sign up the Faulkner Trail.

On the way down the mountain I saw this picturesque fence that really captured my imagination. I took several quick shots of it, which I’m using as my new header.

I don’t want to be disingenuous: keeping the first two goals was pretty easy. I also don’t want to be dishonest: I exercised every single day, save one — turns out that while Mary helped with one goal, she hindered another. One of the best parts of the week was being almost entirely unplugged. I checked email periodically, but otherwise avoided all forms of news except for reports about equal marriage in New York and anything hyper local. I was [almost] completely cut off from Facebook, too. I admit to the almost because I logged on once, and then decided not to do it again. Whenever I felt tempted by the Interwebs, instead of indulging in them I picked up a book and headed for the pool, grabbed my pen and tucked away in my sitting room or the coffee shop, or went for a run. These are habits that, once established, I hope to continue.

The absolute best part about the whole week, though, was the hospitality — and the company. In every way, above and beyond. I wouldn’t really know where to stop if I started, so I’ll just keep it simple: thank you. It’s got the bones.

I worry over the end of things (except, apparently, the end of this post), I always have. But during my week in Woodstock I really tried to appreciate and enjoy each day, each moment, as it came. That wasn’t technically a goal, but nonetheless I achieved it. (Maybe I got mopey once or twice, perceiving the end, but I snapped out of it quickly.) It’s likely I will spend parts of this week thinking, one week ago today we were here, doing this, eating there … but like summer, that too will go away. For now, I’m a little sad it’s over. But only a little. Because there’s also something really nice about coming home, and looking forward to what’s next.

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5 Responses to The Blue Horse Inn Retreat and Wellness Center

  1. Keri Cole says:

    Randa, this is the best. Having you here was as much of a treat for me; your visit was my summer vacation, even though I had to cook breakfast every day and those pesky patrons kept interloping. I want to post it over on our blog, but I fear other guests would start to expect The Randa Treatment. Keep writing, Randa. I can’t wait to read the next installment, partially composed at 3 Church St.

  2. chris says:

    Oh, this looks so wonderful (especially that breakfast OMG). Glad you had such a fantastic time! Even gladder to see your Fat Booth pic. Boy Chris got an iPhone last month and I’m not ashamed to say that Fat Booth was the VERY FIRST thing we did with it. Growing up is awesome.

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