This past weekend Stephanie and I were so very lucky to get away by ourselves, if only for one night. Steph managed to find a small B&B out in Amherst, MA, not far from the UMass campus. Many people who read this blog are from Massachusetts, so you already know how beautiful and lovely Western Massachusetts is. Our plan was to relax as much as possible for the short time we were away because those opportunities simply never present themselves when you have two year old twins. So relax we did. You can probably guess that the first thing we did on Saturday when we arrived was take a nap. Then we got up and drove down to Northampton for some shopping and some dinner at a charming little restaurant called Circa, who, as you probably could guess again, focus on local outlets for their food. For the record, I had the pumpkin risotto with kale and a glass of Morande white from Chile. Very, very good.
Coincidentally, Son Volt was playing that evening, but I skipped it. I did hear their sound check as we walked by Pearl Street before dinner, but this trip wasn’t for bands, it was for sitting and resting.
The next morning we walked through the grounds of the B&B and this is where the story gets good. The grounds were just outstanding. The innkeeper is/was a botanist, so she clearly knows what she is doing. The flowers, trees and all other plantings were so perfectly planted and maintained that you wonder how this person has time to also run a B&B. But that’s not all – she also has a small farm there, barn and all, with goats, chickens, ducks, etc. Oh yeah, there’s a vegetable garden, too. Impressive is not strong enough of an adjective to describe it. Trust me. Breakfast was delivered to our room – a spectacular omelette of peppers, onion, bacon, cheese, tomato and mushrooms. Toast and her own homemade raspberry jam accompanied it. The eggs come from her chickens. Everything inside of omelette comes from her garden. The bacon was from a local meat place. Delicious.
So we got around to talking to the innkeeper, a charming woman, maybe 55-60 years old, who lived there alone. Twelve years ago her life fell apart. She had two teen daughters and got divorced. Her life was hard. She kept a small ranch in Amherst and did volunteer work occasionally. One Sunday she was out in a neighborhood of Amherst collecting money for homeless people and came across an absolute disaster of a house. An old woman lived there, amidst large amounts of junk and piles of whatever that had likely been accumulating since the Great Depression. The barn was falling down. The grounds were unkempt. The ceilings were leaking.
The future innkeeper knew right then and there that she had found her calling. Eventually – get this – she traded her finished ranch to the old woman for the dilapidated, dreary farm house. Her daughters were horrified at the thought of this and were embarrassed to bring any friends to this disaster of a place, at least initially. She poured all of her life savings into it, used her background in botany to sculpture the outside into the remarkable gardens they are now – and opened a B&B. It took her five years to get the house in condition to start selling rooms. The barn was reborn and animals filled it. The kids classes began.
She is living her dream, with her cat in tow and happiness and serenity tagging along for the ride. Bless her heart. She made our stay so very pleasant and as I listened to her story, I couldn’t help but be filled with admiration and happiness for her. And a little jealousy! What a great outcome. Now, I’m not saying I would ever start a B&B and a farm for my own ultimate happiness and personal utopia. Truthfully, I have a TON to be happy about as things stand right now – an amazing wife. Wonderful children. Financial security. But we all strive for that point in life where you feel everything is just right. Most of us don’t get there. For her, it took a divorce and years of sweat for it to come to fruition. You just can’t help but feel so happy for her and inspired by her. I also know there’s more I can do to be truly fulfilled. Things like this innkeeper’s story fuel the fire for my own wants. It’s not about the money. It’s about finding fulfillment in time to enjoy it.
Time. A lot of my posts have to do with time. You have to act before you can’t.