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The Enchanted Guest House

by Penny Taylor

When I was a precocious little girl growing up, in rural Connecticut, we had a guest house in our back yard called, “The Mimi House”. It was lovingly named after my paternal grandmother Mary. On summer days I would dash out of my house, wide eyed with my curly hair streaming wildly behind me, equipped with a highly overactive imagination and head straight for that spot. Not even a woodpecker, which was always enthusiastically pecking away at the bent weathered electrical pole, right outside of the guest house, could daunt me. There was nothing about this small resilient structure that did not utterly fascinate me, from the old crank out windows, to the open out window over the head of the bed which fastened to the exterior eaves and, last but not least, the built in bureau with all of its hidden treasures. Upon entering I would drink in the slightly woody, musty and fabric aroma while looking around to see which adventure I could conjure up that day. I would seat myself at the diminutive antique desk pretending to make earth shaking decisions while being hailed as an influential world leader, as I gazed out the window overlooking the fields and orchard.

At the head of the bed there was a shelf with a menagerie of exquisite little china animals which were all lined up perfectly by their respective types in different sizes, from large to small. Who had staged them? I never discovered who that person was, and no one else seemed to remember either. Those charming animals came to life for me and I was endlessly fascinated by them. I would rearrange them, always being very careful to restore the creatures, to their original positions. There were horses, bears, dogs, cats and pigs. That is when I developed my life long penchant for pigs.

Some days, my friend, Kathy, and I would excitedly and reverently pull open the bureau's bin. We were in awe of the wealth of elegant evening gowns which my beautiful sweet mother had worn many years earlier on her transatlantic ocean liner crossing to Europe. At that time it was in vogue to wear a different gown to dinner each evening. My friend and I would sashay up and down the Bocci Court, which was adjacent to the guest house, wearing our daily choices of gowns which were awkwardly trailing behind us on the grass. Believing that we were actually on the promenade deck of the ship and in the formal dining room, we felt the thrills which my Mom must have experienced. What a tremendous joy and delight it was for both of us. That was when children at play still subsisted on imagination.

One hot sultry summer’s evening my older sister, Bonnie, brought her new tape recorder out to the, “Mimi House”. It was the size of a small suitcase! For the first time in my young life, sitting in this cherished haven, I heard my actual voice. Wow, how totally shocking to discover that the voice which I heard inside of me was not the one that everyone else heard, what a revelation!

As the story goes, when the guest house’s namesake, Mary, was sleeping in the guest house one evening, years before I was born, my maternal great grandfather Julius paid her a late night visit. He sat at the end of the bed and regaled her with family tales, which she very happily related the next morning to shocked relatives. He had actually passed away five years previously!

The treasured thoughts of that little guest house have remained with me, enriching me as a person with all of those happy memories. It is the imagination and enjoyment of these little things in life which shape us into the human beings who we are today.

I will always be eternally grateful for my chance to experience the enchanted guest house!