Monday, June 19, 2006

Olde Squat Inn

When Gerald and I first learned that Jim Grisley had started reconstructing log cabins on his farm, we were interested in his project. Jim invited Gerald to bring me up, and we had taken a drive up there a few years ago and wandered around the log cabin village being created. Ever since, I had wanted to stay in one of the log cabins.

When various events made it seem unwise to take the trip we had talked about for our 50th wedding anniversary, we decided a trip to Olde Squat Inn was a good way to celebrate. The bread and breakfast set of log cabins--seven ready to be rented out and others under construction--are located on the old Robert Worthen Trail originally just up the road from Old Squat Church for which the Inn is named.

We had gone up on Wednesday afternoon and checked in, and Katy Lockwood welcomed us with fresh brewed tea and walked us down to our cabin, where her homemade cookies were waiting for us on the table there. We loved the inviting swing on the wrap-around porch, the tin roof, the wooden floors, and all the details inside from old books and magazines to read to the arrangement of tiger lilies and Queen Anne’s lace in an ancient pitcher with a crack in it. Katy did not know how often down through the years I have picked a wild flower bouquet to recognize our anniversary, but I knew I was at a place I would love.

Gerald’s friend Jim came to visit with us as he does with all his guests, and he answered our questions about the log cabins under construction and the brick wall being finished. A previous wall was made from bricks of the old Pittsburg bank. He explained that Old Squat Church later became Union Grove Church, which only recently had been torn down. He had retrieved much of the materials of the building and will be using them in future projects. So later we had to go back to the cemetery that I had spent an afternoon walking through not much over a year ago when the Union Grove Church building was still standing. It was sad to see the new dirt where the old building had been, but the cost of roofing and repair for the building no longer used had caused the decision to safely do away with it.

In the cool of evening, we walked around the small lake and thrilled to the hoot owls calling each other back and forth from the woods on either side of us. We were accompanied by Buster, the young dog with retriever blood, constantly begging us to throw his little piece of lumber for him to run and bring back to us. We tired before he did, but he continued to keep us company, and we even had to throw the wood a few times after we got back home to our swing. We enjoyed seeing the vegetable gardens and the deer in the pasture. Rather than using the cabin kitchen, we had dinner in town, and we came back to swing some more as we looked at the stars and listened to the katydids and night sounds. Then we went in to read until bedtime.

And so we woke up on June 15th, our 50th anniversary, in the most tranquil and relaxed environment that one could imagine. We had a scrumptious breakfast that Katy had made for us with country ham prepared with new potatoes dug the night before from the patch we had observed. And there was french toast with cream cheese in the middle. A little questioning by our breakfast mate, Nancy Durbin, who was down from Springfield to promote Amtrak in our area, brought out the information that Katy had put in just a touch of strawberry flavor in the cream cheese. The eggs and toasted English muffins, jellies, homemade apple butter, juices, and fresh fruit compote were all accompanied by hot coffee served by our friendly hostess. Katy, an art teacher, explained she started cooking when she was 8 on the Missouri farm where she grew up. She knows our region well and gives information and advice to visitors of all our area attractions.

Another walk that morning took us through the herb gardens and we got to meet a young family with their toddler and large dogs down from the Chicago area. Near the plum tree orchard in the tall grass by the log barns, we stirred up a wild turkey and her baby chicks. Gerald was thrilled to get a photograph.

We were sad to leave our peaceful retreat, but it was time to go. Gerald made our entry in the guest journal, where we had seen names and read comments of people from all over the nation and from out of the nation. We found out we were not the only couple that had chosen to celebrate an anniversary in that cabin. And there were honeymooners also who had stayed there. Some journal entries were by children as plenty of beds upstairs as well as the one in the main room made the cabin family friendly. Reluctantly we closed the cabin door and headed to our own home some ten miles down the road.

Back at Woodsong, there was a beautiful bouquet of red roses from Gerald. I would fill the hummingbird feeders, and we would attend to some other things before we took off for our next adventure in Southern Illinois at The Rose Hotel on the Ohio River.

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