I was having my morning coffee with “dead friend” Henry James on this Country Inn Day. As Henry was telling me all about his travels from Paris to London and other such stories, I had an overwhelming urge to do a little traveling myself. Though I do have a trip to Paris scheduled in May, I was up for some adventure today. Where shall I go on this Country Inn Day? I don’t have much time for this outing, only a few hours, so my outing has to be somewhere close by. I know! I’ll go to Peninsula, a well-preserved 19th century town just west of Hudson. I grabbed my coat and hat, hopped in the car, and my Country Inn Day adventure had begun. Every adventure needn’t involve great distances, just a spirit of fun.
As I drove through the Cuyahoga Valley on my way to Peninsula (this area now declared a National Park) I had the distinct feeling I was back in New England. I used to live in Boston, Massachusetts and I loved it there, but my region of Northeast Ohio, where I live now, looks very much like New England. There’s beautiful nature all around me and here in what we Ohians call the Land of The Western Reserve our old architecture is similar to the architecture of old New England. This is because this part of Ohio was settled by Connecticut people back in the late 18th/early 19th century.
After a short but very enjoyable ride I was entering the town. Though I drive through Peninsula frequently on my way to other places I seldom stop and really look around. Today, on this Country Inn Day, I did stop and smell the roses so to speak, taking notice of some of the things this town offers, and that’s what a Country Inn Day is all about. On Country Inn Days I step out of the normal routine and operate as on holiday taking time to enjoy the sites and sounds around me and anything and everything else that is delightful in life.
My first stop was this lovely old building. I always admired this old Town Hall as I’d drive by it and in recent years the building was beautifully restored. Back in 1805 Alfred Wolcott of Connecticut came here in a surveying party. By 1811 what had been known as Range 11, Town 4 of the Connecticut Western Reserve became known as Boston Township. Funny that I lived in Boston , Massachusetts, but now I still live very near Boston, but a different Boston (and when I did live in Boston, Massachusetts I had an apartment in Cleveland – Cleveland Circle that is, and my Hudson is a distant suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. Rather strange how these city names follow me around – strange but neat.) Anyway, this building is no longer a town hall, but rather serves as a museum.
I do love history and historic buildings. I feel visiting old towns is a little like going back into time. Country Inn Days are very educational too for I learn a lot of things as I poke around places of interest. Here I learned the town of Peninsula was founded in 1818 and it grew to be a prosperous place because of the Ohio and Erie Canal. It was a bustling canal stop in the old days. A stroll down the Main Street must’ve been fun years ago and it’s still fun today.
I enjoyed looking at every detail of each house I passed as I strolled down the street. Here are just a few.
Do you know this house was made from a kit? I learned that Sears and Roebuck sold house kits way back when and these kits were very popular. Maybe your town has some Sears and Roebuck houses too. I know my town of Hudson has at least one, but for all I know it may have even more. This house looks like the doll house I always wanted and never had as a child.
As I walked past this particular house with green trim and lattice work admiring it, I noticed the owner was about to pull out of his driveway so I turned around and walked up to his car. I think it’s nice to compliment the owner of a house when we think that house is charming. Who doesn’t like a compliment? Well, my compliment turned into a very interesting discussion about Peninsula, houses, and art.
You see the owner of this house happened to be a retired art professor from Kent State University. He is a painter and he taught painting there for years. These days besides painting he also builds banjos and mandolins and he did a lot of building on and around his house too. He appreciated my interest in Peninsula and in his house and was very friendly – a typical Ohioan, so he asked me if I’d like to meet his wife and see his art studios. Well, of course I would! Do you see what adventures a Country Inn Day can provide?
This man, Doug Unger, is really quite the accomplished artist. I so enjoyed seeing both his studios – one was attached to his house and the other, A Summer studio, was a separate building out back. You can look him up on google and get his whole story. I got a large part of his story thanks to my Country Inn Day. What fun!
Everywhere I looked, his studios were a feast for the eyes. So many paintings, both oils and pastels . . . along with all the tools of an artist. Here you see his pastels.
Doug not only makes instruments, I believe he plays them too.
Works of Art.
I invited Doug to tea, but he said he seldom leaves his house. He is quite devoted to his work, but I think he would be a charming and most interesting guest one of these days so I will keep after him, keep in touch. It’s always wonderful to expand one’s circle of friends and it’s especially wonderful when those people are interesting and full of passion for art and the art of life.
After visiting Doug and his world I kept strolling for a while and I popped into a few shops like this one pictured above. It was full of one-of-a-kind art objects made by local artists – a great place to pick up a gift for a friend or a treat for yourself.
I had a nice chat with the shop owner too. There was lots of socializing on this Country Inn Day.
Actually, Peninsula had a few nice shops and this one, The Yellow Creek Trading Company, was another fun place to looks around. Items large and small – much temptation, but today wasn’t a Country Inn Shopping Day so I held on to my money and simply enjoyed looking at all the beautiful things. “Window shopping” if you will.
But after a while I was getting pretty hungry so I walked farther down the street to The Winking Lizard restaurant which is housed in another old building. I remember when this place functioned as The Peninsula Nightclub with a dance floor and a different interior dynamic, but now it’s just a good place to get a bite to eat.
I got a table on its quiet porch so I could watch the comings and goings out its ample windows.
I brought Beatrix Potter along with me on this Country Inn Day outing by way of a book. The book is called Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life. I was alone enjoying my lunch, but I felt Beatrix was with me in spirit as I read of her horticulture adventures and enjoyed her very own words that were captured in her journal. For example, one February day when she was looking out onto her garden she admired the snowdrops and wrote,
“There are thousands in front of the windows and in the orchard and in the lane. That is why I have an untidy garden. I won’t have the dear things dug up in the summer, they are so much prettier growing in natural clumps, instead of being dried off and planted singly.”
Hearing many nature tales from Beatrix put me in a real Nature mood so after lunch I had to take a little walk along the Cuyahoga River before I left for home returning to my Country Inn. Because this area is within the Cuyahoga National Park there are towpaths and a great many areas for exploration. How lucky I am to live here. Beatrix would like it too. After spending time with her at lunch I had the feeling she was along with me on my walk.
But all good things come to an end and so it was with my outing. I was back on the road heading to my Hudson and my evening activities at the Inn.
It was a good Country Inn Outing Day. I learned a little something about Peninsula, met a living artist and visited with a departed one. I met a shop owner and enjoyed nature, some window shopping, a walk, and good food too. Perhaps my next Country Inn Day will be spent in a very different way, but however I spend it I know it will be a refreshing break from routine because all Country Inn Days are just that.
I hope your days are fun and interesting. It’s up to us to make them that way. Like they say –
Seize the day!
I sure try and I hope you do too.