Now, I will say, I'm still new. I've been hustling around these gleaming hallways at Goldmoor Inn & Dining for about a month now, and I feel I can proclaim with the utmost certainty, Innkeeper Patricia Smith is Superwoman. Or Superkeeper. Or Your Inn-ness. I'll need to think further on a catchphrase.
The trouble is, she is SO much that it's hard to bottle her up with a label. When you meet Patricia, you are struck right away with her knowledge. Serious knowledge about everything from wine vintages to bed linens to plastering walls to convection ovens to etching on champagne glasses to types of roses and geraniums to species of finches on the back patio. She can identify spices by smell, thread count by touch, birds by sound, and weather by wind direction.
Now, it may seem like I'm projecting, being new at my position and as eager to please as I am. Allow me to take you through a day in the life of our innkeeper.
Last Saturday. I arrived at work around 7:30 a.m. because I figured someone somewhere would need my help since it was our first wedding of the season. I hadn't even sat at my computer when I was whisked away to the kitchen. The smell of glorious egg and bacon casserole wafted from the mighty, silver shiny oven. (I should insert here I have an infatuation/obsession with pretty kitchens, and this one is nothing short of stunning. Mirrored brilliant surfaces, a full wall of perfectly clean floor-to-ceiling windows, every appliance known to a chef or chef wannabe, and a stove that could inspire tears.) But back to Queen P. She was diligently simultaneously wiping down a large muffin tin and flattening some perfect-looking crust. She snapped her fingers at me and said, "Help me or this will never get done." I promptly stood beside her as she spooned a glorious apple cinnamon vanilla mixture into the pastries and squeezed them shut masterfully into a tulip-bundle. She popped them into the oven and began slicing fruit into delectably thin shapes.
I glanced at my watch. I had scheduled her an interview with a local magazine at 8 a.m. I asked, "Where is the chef? Why are you making breakfast? And you have an interviewer arriving in ten minutes." She leaned her head back and laughed a full, hearty laugh. "The chef is getting married in three hours!" It dawned on me that she was going to have to serve as lead chef for breakfast and lunch service (and probably dinner, later, much later) and provide full appetizers, salads, meal and cake to a wedding party of 65 people.
I went to collect my writer from the front desk and apologetically informed him he would have to speak to Queen P in the kitchen as we were down a chef. He plopped his notebook down in the middle of a pile of long, scary-looking knives and began grilling her. When did you start this place? How old is it? Who is your husband? What does he do? How many rooms do you have? Where is your chef and why are you cooking breakfast??" They deep chest laugh again. She wove warm stories from the past with complements on her faithful staff. She talked and chopped and cut and laughed, and the interviewer seemed so mesmerized that he forgot to take notes.
I had to hand it to the woman. She could multi-task. The remainder of the day, I ran around carrying chairs from inside to outside (our bride made a last-minute decision in venue, from the lodge to the outdoor pavilion) and otherwise taking orders from the diligent wedding coordinator who can walk as fast as a bee flies and never EVER stops moving. As I darted in and out and around the kitchen, I fleeting watched Mrs. Smith with a mixture of admiration and disbelief. As the day progressed, she went from cooking breakfast, to pouring coffee, to speaking leisurely with guests, to recommending bicycle trails, to clearing dishes, to preparing beef sirloin tips and proscuitto-spinach-stuffed chicken, to answering the phone, to making pasta, to checking on the bride, to weeding flower beds, to quick housekeeping, to salad preparation, to holding a black sun umbrella over the photographer so she could get "the shot," to tearfully watching the full wedding ceremony, to pouring champagne, to giving a heartwarming, heartfelt toast to the chef-groom, to plating meals for 65 guests (I will interject that I provided the garnish, which looked lovely), to cutting and serving tiered wedding cake, to hugging her husband one of the many times he passed through, helpfully hustling and carrying something of importance.
Somewhere in the middle of the day, I exchanged my heels for flats and ducked into the walk-in cooler to hide from, well, everything. When I felt my sanity return, I emerged, slightly freshened. Patricia glanced at me and said, "We should re-invent the stock in the wine cellar. We need a signature Pinot Noir! And start a wedding Pinboard on Pinterest. And update the blog with the 800 new pink plants I've selected this spring for the Goldmoor Gardens! It's the season of pink!"
Seriously, 800 plants. But the thing about this woman is, when you are talking to her, she really looks at you, listening to you. And if you don't understand something, she stops the whirlwind of what she's doing, and explains it to you. She's loud, but never angry, she's emotional, but accessible, and I don't think she ever, ever sleeps. Not without mental list-making anyway. At the end of this crazy wedding day, which was probably a normal Saturday for her, I had to smile. She winked at me, pointing with a set of tongs. "I am taking tomorrow off," she said with conviction. A chuckle was heard around the room. "No you're not," said the busy staff, in unison. Queen P laughed heartily. "Yee of little faith!" she boomed, pointed the tongs around the room.
And she most certainly did take the next day off. But not without first dropping off a tray of iced cinnamon rolls for the staff to enjoy.