Walking up the steps to the back door of the Lyon's mansion on a bright sunny autumn day, I thought of the person, “Miss Pat”, whom I would be interviewing for a writing invitation on The Bird Sisters blog -- thinking too of Rebecca Rasmussen who gave me this fantastic opportunity to write in a space designated for writers, novelists, and known authors who have published; moreover, a space for even someone like myself who is unpublished and as yet 'unknown'. So, what will I write about, I thought? It has to be about finding character and story in the impressions and surroundings and in the person I am now approaching. Thus, I spent two delightful and charming hours with an enigma.
She greets me cordially with a smile and her still noticeable southern accent. “Miss Pat” as she calls herself from her southern heritage from Mississippi is everything gracious. Charming and well coiffed and dressed, she smiles and invites me inside. She is wearing a long black dress that looks to be silk and a pink leather jacket along with black, silver, and pink jewelry well arranged. Her black sandals show well-pedicured pink polished toenails.
At this point, I am well aware of wearing denim capris and a purple sweater jacket over a purple tank. However, I do carry a great pewter colored leather bag and at this particular junction I have to say I fit the part of the observer, which a writer has to be. A writer is always on observation assessing, looking for nuance, and in this particular time and moment, I smell a marvelous aroma of some soup on the stove. It smells textural and is some bean soup I later find out in conversation. The parlor is high ceilings and dark forest green with embellishment of a bygone era, that long ago Victorian period when this home was actually built. Graciously she guides me into the parlor with dark woods, autumn decor is around in many ways displayed on round tables and in vases of textured flower arrangements that feel natural and inviting appreciation for in a quiet subdued way that I am aware of. The artist in me comes alive in this respect that I always notice decor and interior design and textural aspects along with the elements of design. Miss Pat has set the stage for a delightful experience.
Thus, I begin asking questions about how she became an innkeeper. Actually, it happened happenstance. She simply fell into this bed and breakfasting occupation while helping another friend who owned such an establishment and who asked for Miss Pat's help for staging mystery parties. That was twenty years ago. The home I found out was also bought happenstance! Now this is beginning not to be surprising from someone who has just told me she walks within 'a bubble' or 'with fairy dust on her shoulder' who just falls into all good things. How interesting this is! Few of us have this easy charming situational thing, and it is exciting to discover more facets of her background and character. As I sit and listen on a red couch in a well-appointed parlor, I think of the romantic dinners she describes she has for a couple. Discreet and romantic meals and times to talk, cherish, or explain between two people. The man rings a bell after the first course is served. What stories linger in my imagination afterward and later while musing on the conversation!
For a fact, I'm learning historical notes and a charming story of a woman who desired to join her husband going home back to Kansas after traveling in the air force and constant change always in this process making a home in moments spent in various homes along the way. However, this home is to be well cherished as the former owners had also done. This is Pat's philosophy: cherish the moments as a caretaker.
So heritage is important as well as making moments for family and friends and eventually for those guests who will reside in her quite elegant charming home that has a sense of quietude and congeniality extended in gracious manners and features that blend old with new. New features are a spa, plasma televisions throughout and computer access for the fast paced world and business guests who happen to find their way into her home and now in the adjoining mansion and restaurant her son is efficiently running. Wonderful menus are described on the up-to-date face book site that extol the homemade foods and entertainments that come into this small community. Surprisingly there are many such events and entertainments.
So a writer's delight is experiencing the feeling of all this activity within the area of these two mansions connected in family. So a writer/observer sees the opportunity for people watching, historical enactments, weddings, engagements, romantic meals, as well as restorative in the aspect of those coming home to have a place to stay or come to during a funeral or sudden illness of a family member, and, lastly, simply 'a place to come to heal after a tragedy or divorce.'
Much more could be said of this conversation and interview with a charming and beautiful southern woman who happenstance came to be an innkeeper and gracious woman found discipline at a door waiting to give house tours come rain or shine dressed in the 1890's fashion costume of a long red dress and draping pearls who has a ready smile waiting! Indeed, the discipline and management skill shines through in the conversation. It has been a stimulating scintillating conversation full of richness and detail.
It provides mental food for much thinking of possible novels and characters. Who lived here? Well, that answer was delightful as well. During one of the usual tours, a man appeared two years ago suddenly and Miss Pat asked him to join the scheduled tour. It so happens he was a descendent of the first owners of the two homes, bankers from Boston, and this is so much more to this story but time and space cannot tell it, here.
Suffice it to say there is much an author can find in such a setting with such an atmosphere and richness. I take my leave from this kind and gracious woman’s environment of subtle hues, subtle textures, rich stories, love of home and hearth, people of all sorts coming and going surround me and my imagination-- a wellspring for writing! For one who loves to write and experience on levels of creativity this is the place to come and be richly embraced within!
Thank you, Miss Pat, for the uniqueness and certain beauty of home and hearth outwardly extended! It was a pleasure to sit with you for a spell smelling wonderful aromas, listening to a vital southern voice telling me a wonderful up to date story with such local history and such vivacious vitality! For a certainty the writer that resides within me wants more! Yes, this is the process and it is the finding of a story in a rich heart, a warming hearth and, lastly, in the inside a lovely woman's heart who is a cherisher of all the elements of heart and who exudes joy in the sharing her own personal story.
Link to The Lyons Twin Mansions:
Cheryl Greenfield is an aspiring writer who has a rich education in the humanities/arts. Currently, Cheryl is working to do professional storytelling events for children using her own stories and that of favored authors to create moments of inspiration for children and adults alike. She is also working on some oil paintings depicting Kansas prairie grass as well as pastoral scenes and working on a grant proposal in conjunction with two storytelling/art projects in KS and MO.