February is often your last chance to get snowed in. Here’s our list of how to enjoy it.
- Press your nose against the window to watch the winter landscape swirl like a snow globe around the barn and farm buildings.
- Be nostalgic and go out to play. Build a snowman, go cross country skiing or snowshoeing.
- Snuggle under a warm blanket on the couch and watch three movies in a row. Only get up for snack breaks.
- Eat soup, drink a hot toddy, nibble on chocolate and pop popcorn.
- Take a night walk for sky watching. The winter circle has amazing patterns of stars and meteor showers in February.
- Visit a local winery or brew house and sit in front of a roaring fire with friends. Stay off schedule.
- Sleep long and cozy under a down comforter, and awake to fresh coffee and a farm fresh breakfast. Our chickens still lay in the winter.
- Take a deep soak with lavender oil in our claw foot tub from yesteryear.
- The silence of winter is perfect for reading, doing a puzzle, or playing a board game.
- Write letters to friends or family or document some personal reflections in a journal.
When we hunker down it’s all about being quiet and still.
Our Secret Season
When you were ten do you remember listening to the radio on a January morning for the list of school closings? Your school was announced. Yippee! You jumped out of bed, and you were on vacation. At our farmhouse winter is our secret season. A vacation when there are gusts of tumbling and blowing snow outside our windows. Inside we have soup to eat, warm cider to sip, popcorn to pop and movies to watch. We play scrabble, build puzzles, read a book, or take a nap. Folks may think we are closed in cold weather. We’re not. We are being very quiet. If you believe in magic, we’ll share our secret vacation with you.
Sacred places have been visited by tourists forever. There is energy in the power and peace found at these special places. Meditation and quiet attention can help us expand our vision to the light, color, and sound around us. There is a meditation place like this at Tryon Farm. I’ve been told that Native Americans held ceremonial activities on this land, and that the energy here is ripe for spiritual influences. That must be why one of our neighbors created our Gratitude Labyrinth several years ago. It is a place with a seven-circuit design that can be walked inward and outward to deepen your sense of self, soul, and awareness to whatever you seek on life’s journey. Visit us to feel this energy as your own personal experience.
How exactly do you ‘connect with nature, and nurture your spirit’ at Tryon Farm Guest House? One invigorating outdoor experience is our treehouse bathing shower. Whether you are under the night sky or warming in the sun, nature’s breezes stir the adventurous child in you. Looking out over long prairie views through fan shaped leaves of the ginkgo tree may cause you to ponder your relationship to the natural universe. Or you can just feel free and relaxed while cleansing au natural in the warm water. Our experience was recently featured on CNN Travel. Read more here:
Locals call it Indiana’s Ocean. Europeans call it The Sea. Visitors ask us how far Tryon Farm Guest House is from The Lake. Lake Michigan is huge, yet on a clear day the skyline of Chicago is a sparkling backdrop across the blue water. We are the easy side of the lake, usually calm, peaceful, and tranquil. The water laps the summer shore in such a rhythmic way that you find your heart beating slower to match the waves. A walk while looking for beach glass or driftwood is fun. Hike onto the dune and watch the grasses wave hello. A colorful kite that bounces on the wind gives way to daydreams. Have a picnic with a beer or a glass of wine in the middle of the day just because you can. Stay for the red glow of sunset. What a summer treasure!
The first day of summer was yesterday. It was a blue sky puffy cloud kind of daydream day that was enjoyed by guests to Tryon Farm Institute’s tall grass prairie wildflower hike. We followed Abby, our botanist, from www.inpaws.org out to the green field across from our farmhouse. Who knew what was hidden there? When you look with an informed eye you can see larkspur, butterflyweed, orange milkweed, beebalm, and maximilian sunflowers. Grasses vary from sedges to rushes to forbs and more, and require inspection to identify if the stems are flat, round, hairy or otherwise. Did you know that the common ‘weed’, Queen Ann’s Lace, is a wild carrot? Wildflowers grow all through the seasons until the first frost. So when you visit before Thanksgiving, you are bound to see the treasures in our fields. I think if a plant makes you happy, it might be what some people have called a weed.
Like France Tryon Farm Guest House has the chicken as it’s mascot. It is the perfect compliment to our farmhouse and our breakfasts. Whether poached, fried, baked, scrambled, or deviled, eggs are often enjoyed on our morning menu. The flavor of a fresh organic egg is a local culinary treat. Guests can even collect eggs from the brick coop just steps from the kitchen door.
We have a flock of thirteen hens, one rooster, and four new baby pullets. We can expect our chickens to be our companions for five to ten years as they lay about one egg every thirty-four hours. Visitors to the chicken yard can watch our clucking, crowing, squawking birds as they come beg for scratch corn treats and kitchen scraps, or take their daily dust baths.
America spends forty billion dollars a year on chicken products and paraphenailia. Chickens are the decorative mainstay for country living. We have curtains, flower pots, dishes, towels, wall art, salt and pepper shakers, and clothing as examples.
Chickens are a part of our culture and our language. If you ‘chicken’ out, you are a coward. If you act like a ‘mother hen’, you worry about your children. ‘Laying an egg’ means you bombed in a theatrical performance. When your writing is hard to read, it’s called ‘chicken scratch.’ We celebrate at weddings with the ‘chicken dance.’
The chicken connects us to nature, history, and romance. It is an idyllic symbol of homestead farms where we knew our animals, and found our life sustained by their presence.
Nature sounds fill the air outside our windows with songs of romance this time of year. A brown male tree frog about the size of a paper clip chirps to attract a mate. His invitation is to stroll under the moon on a warm night to the pond. Tryon Farm has three ponds to enjoy on it’s 170 acres, and falling asleep to the rhythm of heart sounds is a peaceful call to us to be grateful for the rapidly approaching summer. Summer is made better by sharing it with others. I think the frogs know that too.
Journals are a great way to see what other people have enjoyed most about their stay at Tryon Farm Guest House.
A bed and breakfast stay is not an anonymous experience. It’s personal. Our rooms have journals in them that guests use to write about what it was like to stay at Tryon Farm Guest House. Recording memories is a way to express, preserve, and connect with others.
Here’s the TOP TEN:
- The chocolate chip cookies
- The breakfast celebrations
- The peaceful, quiet, serene and comforting old house.
- Bathing outside in the outdoor shower.
- 170 acres to explore
- The labyrinth
- Restaurant recommendations
- Fresh eggs from the chickens
- A comfortable bed and a good night’s sleep
- The imaginative space of the attic
A decade ago, 2004, I began a journey of sharing time and experiences with strangers.
Opening your home to travelers and vacationers in an intimate four room bed and breakfast has many blessings. In this anniversary year I have been now called to document what it has really meant on this blog. Memories and highlights include the best compliment, “I don’t feel like a customer here.” They include receiving pieces of people’s incredible talents as gifts. Guests have left footprints in the farmhouse that they visit year after year as I watch over what they left with respect and fondness. There is the quilted Tryon Farm logo. An oak plaque with Tryon Farm Guest House carved on it. A painting given to me by a son whose mother had painted a field of colorful poppies some years before leaving earth. He said he just wanted me to have it. I never met his mom, but she left a legacy and a tribute to the parental relationship that I honor every day while I enjoy her painting.
And then there are the chickens. Over the years I became a collector of chickens. I have ceramic chickens, chicken dishes, wooden chickens, chickens with colorful peppers that match the kitchen, all kinds of chickens. The backyard chickens are the mascots of our ‘farm’, and you can’t get any more authentic than roosters crowing, hens clucking, and the circle of life that we’ve seen over the years. Our nearby Chicago families watch the weather and contact me to make sure the house hasn’t had a stately tree fall on it. It did once, but our damage was rebuilt quickly by our proud contractor who did the renovation ten years ago. When we lose power or get snowed in, our guests enjoy the adventure of living with nature. “Is the house haunted?” Some guests claim a relationship with the other side. Everyone who does tells me this is a happy old place where the spirit is joyful and comforting.
We connect with nature, and nurture your spirit. They call me an innkeeper. Instead I think this 128 year old inn keeps me.