To The New Year
The rain is coming down in big, heavy drops on this last day of the year. As we drive up the exit ramp and off of the Ohio toll road, we are ready to leave the traffic behind. After a whirlwind visit to see our daughter in Baltimore that ended with a late night concert, we said our goodbyes mid morning and got on the highway. A light drizzle turns to fog and rain in the mountains of Pennsylvania and then back to a fine downpour as we cross into Ohio. As we approach our destination, the halfway point to Indiana, a deepening grey spreads across the sky and the rain falls in thick, relentless sheets.
We are staying at the Inn at Brandywine Falls, a beautiful old farmhouse situated right beside the Brandywine Falls, part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park landscape. The farmhouse was built in 1848 by James Wallace, who with his father ran a mill on the river. But for the last thirty years, it has come back to life as a rambling and welcoming bed and breakfast.
We drive over the river in the rain, barely catching sight of the falls, and turn in the lane to the farmhouse. Dodging the raindrops as much as we can, we make our way to the front door. A bell lightly tinkles as we walk into the foyer and Katie Hoy, the innkeeper, comes through the kitchen door to welcome us. We are staying in the James Wallace Parlour, named after that long ago owner. It is a room full of light, despite the grayness outside. Katie shows us in, immediately turns on the gas stove, and we feel right at home. Weary from the wet road, we gladly bring in our bags, slowly taking in the period furniture and architecture. We relax, have a glass of water and eat the buckeyes set out just for us. Then we head back out in the rain to find a place to eat.
By now, it’s dark out and with the continuous downpour, we can barely see the winding rain soaked road. It’s New Year’s Eve and the parking is overflowing at our first dining choice in the next town. So we drive through the blinding rain to the next town. Here, at D’Angelo’s Italian Restaurant, they are also booked up. But when the owner hears that we are from out of town, he rearranges his seating chart and finds us a table. Finally, with hot food, perfect service and pleasant atmosphere, we unwind. We take our time, breathing out the holiday busyness we left behind. After a glorious, filling meal, we are ready for the wet ride back to the Inn. Once there, in the warmth of the living room, we toast our wine glasses to a new year and sip our wine as classical music wafts out of the kitchen where the innkeeper and her daughter are prepping for the morning.
After a great night of sleep, we join two other guests and our hosts in the dining room for a homemade breakfast. Hot oatmeal with toppings, fresh fruit, coffee cake and bread, fresh juice and coffee, eggs, baked apples and the traditional new year foods of pork and cabbage, here in sausage and a delicious russian cabbage pie form, fill our plates. All homemade, all delicious! The conversation among strangers turns us into friends and we shake to gathering next new year’s for more of the same.
The rain is gone as we hike over to the Falls, and watch the power of all that water as it makes its way down river. On the way back to Indiana, we reflect on the past twenty four hours. One year turns into another year. We start this one with breathing room, beautiful surroundings, delicious food and good conversation. May it continue so!