This past December 16th marked our 7th anniversary of the start of this wonderful journey of owning the Brass Lantern Inn in Stowe, Vermont. I still vividly recall putting up Christmas Holiday lights on the Inn on 12/17 on a beautifully clear, crisp, bright sunny day. The temperature that day reached a high of -12. Perhaps, and most likely due to the excitement of finally being here in Stowe and “living the dream” it never really felt that cold (“it’s a dry cold,” I convinced myself…).
And while we recognize winter as our signature season, we soon discovered that Stowe is an amazing place to live and visit in any of our distinct four seasons. Moving here from Baltimore, Maryland, what struck me initially was the enthusiastic embrace of winter by the town, and of course, its visitors. If you going to have winter, you might as well go all the way, right? While we loved our experiences in Baltimore, winters there could be grey and wet most of the time. Schools would close on a forecast of 4” of snow (and then not snow….). Here, in Stowe, for many Fridays in the winter, the school kids get to experience Friday afternoons as a “Friday Program.” The school buses line up at 11 a.m., picking up the students and the educational programs move to the slopes of Mt. Mansfield where the kids learn to ski or snowboard. What a wonderful life, right?
The excitement we feel today when we see that first snowfall of the season or any of our several “freshies” (new snow over old) is just as strong today as it was in that first week of ownership, 7 years ago. Much of the reason for this, I believe, is that we have the truly special opportunity to see and experience our winter landscape through the eyes of each and every guest (new and returning). The dream remains strong through the opportunity to be of service to you, our guests. Thank you all for supporting our dream over the past 7 years.
It has been a wonderful, enriching journey so far, and we are looking forward to what lies ahead. Sign on a shop window viewed today; “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.”
We are grateful for this opportunity to be here in Stowe, Vermont at the Brass Lantern Inn at all times and certainly at this time and season of the year. We recognize that we are uniquely rewarded by the opportunity to welcome and host so many wonderful people from around this country and the world.
With so much apparent polarization of thoughts and feelings for our fellow human beings in this past year of political rhetoric, perhaps, and hopefully, we can use this time that has been set aside in the governmental calendars of the U.S. to be, dare I say it, a bit more compassionate towards one another. Thanksgiving may just be the perfect transition point to help us all move forward from this year of campaign statements.
The beauty of this current position we find ourselves here in Stowe, Vermont, is that on any typical day we are clearly more focused on this wonderful adventure of Innkeeping and thereby preventing us from paying much attention to the constant “news” feeds from so many electronic channels. Ultimately, I think this has been a good thing. Of course we want to be involved and aware of our local, national and worldwide events, we are intimately aware that our location and special community gives us some “protection” from things that might otherwise give us concern. Not really a “head in the sand” kind as much as, “thank goodness we have a healthy awareness and distance from those things that otherwise may impact our sense of peaceful retreat” here in northern Vermont.
We hope that this Thanksgiving Season gives you time to assess your own blessings and rewards. And perhaps this holiday will also provide a chance to bring us all together in a worldwide family. I know, kind of corny, but as our world becomes more interconnected (at least in a communicative sense, if not geographical) is it not in the best interest of all that we, get along?
This post certainly strays away from the more local focus of the Stowe area that we typically share but feel that we are more alike than different and the opportunity for being thankful just struck me today. And if your own Thanksgiving Day plans are still open why not consider a peaceful retreat to Stowe and the Brass Lantern Inn? Check out our “Thanksgiving in Stowe” special; stay two nights, get third at 30% off. Discounts extend for even longer stays, just call us to confirm.
George and Mary Anne
Ok, as much as we love our winter activities we also embrace the upcoming Mud Season (more on that in a follow up blog) and the opportunity to celebrate the passing seasons, winter to spring with the traditional “Sugar on Snow.”
What? Sugar on snow? As you may know, Vermont is the single largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S. “Sugar on snow” is a delicacy here in Vermont found this time of year at many sugar houses (where they produce the maple syrup). Essentially this dish is made by drizzling hot maple syrup over a bowl of snow. The syrup congeals and hardens to create a crystallized treat. That’s right and to complete the tableaux the traditional Vermonters will have this sugar on snow with a donut and finish it off with a dill pickle.
The coming weekend, March 28, 29 is the official Maple Sugar Festival celebrated all over Vermont. There is a wonderful weekend celebration planned at our friends at Boyden Valley Winery just up the road from here. More info: http://www.boydenvalley.com/maplesugarfestival.html and http://vermontmaple.org/events .
The Boyden family has been making Vermont maple syrup for five generations in the picturesque Lamoille River Valley using a traditional wood-fired evaporator with sap collected from over 300 acres of maple trees located on their farm. Did you know it takes 40 gallons of Maple tree sap to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup? Vermont farms produced approximately 1.3 million gallons of maple syrup in 2014.
There is typically only a week or two where the sap runs and the optimal conditions permit the process of sugaring to occur. The sap from maple trees flows when the trees experience an abundance of sunshine (reawakening the growing season) with temperatures below freezing at night and daytime temperatures above freezing during the day.
The whole process of how we get local maple syrup to our breakfast table from those amazing maple trees is best described at the sugar house. There you will find the true Vermont sense of tradition of producing high quality, all natural, maple syrup, nothing added, ever.
If you have never experienced sugar on snow you need to add it to the list of things to experience here in the Stowe area and of course we hope you will consider the Brass Lantern Inn as your home base, independent of the season at hand.
Of the many “perks” that we feel come with this “job” as Innkeepers, certainly, one of the most rewarding is the opportunity to welcome back friends from one or many more previous stays. This past weekend we were so very fortunate to have a full house/”no vacancy” sort of weekend with six of our nine guest rooms filled with returning friends.
We had Louise (Weezie) and Allen here (all the way from southern Vermont!) returning to the Brass Lantern Inn to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. These friends enjoy Vermont so much that they actually stay here and we are so richly rewarded to have this opportunity to host them again and again. And we were so humbled that they felt that the Brass Lantern Inn was the “perfect place to be to celebrate our 40th anniversary!” Thank you Weezie and Allen.
Bruce and Sheila have been coming to the Brass Lantern Inn for more years than we have even been the Innkeepers here. They come at least once a year, typically for the winter activities of cross country and downhill skiing but have also come in the summer with bicycles in tow. This past weekend, like all previous examples of their stays, they bring their guitar, beautiful musical voices and warm, infectious laughter. This time they brought family with them taking over four of our nine guest rooms. Thank you Bruce and Sheila.
Paul and Maria made their yearly trek from the Boston area. We joked that they had to come north to great a break from the record snowfalls that the Boston and southern New England area experienced this year. At least here they can do something with the snow other than just shoveling it out of the way. Thank you Paul and Maria.
This past Friday, the main gathering room of the Brass Lantern Inn was filled with music and good times thanks to the Bruce and Sheila. We sure wish we could have them here every weekend as it was such great way for all of our guests to get to know one another gathered around the fireplace, sharing Cabot cheddar cheese, wine or your favorite local micro brew. Our music night was shared with Weezie and Allen, Anthony and Carol from Nashville, Tennessee, as well as Susan from Toronto (and family of Bruce and Sheila). I think we all made new friends this past weekend.
I miss my family back in Columbus, Ohio and our friends from our former lives in Baltimore, Maryland. While that loss can be tempered by phone calls, social media, and the occasional off-season trips to see family and old friends, our lives are so full now with so many new friends through our current position in life here as Innkeepers of the Brass Lantern Inn. We have also had the occasion to host family and friends which is even more special here in Vermont!
How can this role as an Innkeeper be classified as a job when we have the greatest opportunity to meet so many wonderful people? Ok, when the printer breaks down during the busiest weekend of the winter or a heating valve sticks in the closed/off position on a night where it is 18 below, or the housekeeper quits on Valentine’s Day Saturday morning or any number of small issues like this you get a sense of why it might be considered a job. But truly these are all trivial matters in the larger context of this wonderful experience.
And this is all before you realize you are in this wonderful corner of paradise called Stowe, Vermont! Yes, we are so very thankful to be here and it is only through the support of our guests and friends, both new and returning that allow us this unique opportunity. We never take that for granted and hope you see that in return from us through our service and warm welcome. Thank you all!
November 26, 2014
This coming December 29th, Mary Anne and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary! We will also be celebrating our 5th anniversary as Innkeepers of the Brass Lantern Inn which will occur on the 16th of December, 2014.
In both cases it’s amazing to realize how quickly time and events pass through our lives. For our wedding anniversary, we have, in part, Stowe to thank as this was the special place where Mary Anne and I first crossed paths in that fateful summer of 1983. It was that summer where I met Mary Anne here in Stowe at the start of a week long, guided bike tour of Vermont. Who knew that 26 years later from that summer encounter that we would find ourselves back here in Stowe. And of course we never imagined at that time that we would return here as Innkeepers of the Brass Lantern Inn. Ok, to be fair, the Brass Lantern Inn, Bed & Breakfast, didn’t exist in 1983, but, you get the idea!
As Innkeepers, the stories that we have shared with so many literally thousands of guests over these past 5 years could fill pages and pages of blogs. Fortunately, I am usually so busy experiencing this life that I typically don’t have time to record it on this keyboard. Our guests provide us with a renewed sense of excitement about Stowe and this area of Vermont as we get to see this place through each guests’ unique perspective (each and every day). Throw in how very different this setting is with each passing season and you can see how life just quickly marches on with us just trying to squeeze every moment and experience all that we can from it in passing.
So, you see, these two anniversaries are really so very intertwined that it is impossible for me to respond to those guests who ask, “what brought you to Stowe?” and “what made you want to be an Innkeeper?” without mentioning our very personal connection to this unique place in Vermont.
And finally, to finish this celebratory note I give a nod to the Thanksgiving holiday – we are so very grateful for this opportunity we have had as Innkeepers over the past 5 years. We have and know that we will continue to meet funny, touching, gracious, caring and friendly guests that in many instances become our most recent friends. I am so very thankful that I had that chance meeting with my incredible wife, dearest friend, Mary Anne, and know clearly that without her I would not be living this dream today. Thank you my dear!!
Happy Thanksgiving all. Hugs to our friends,