Saturday, July 21, 2012

Country morning

Just beyond the county line, the road began to rise in a series of gentle rolls. Cornfields to the left, cows to the right. Roof and windows open, country music (the only kind for a road trip, no matter how short) playing loud and the driver singing along.

Destination: The Gingerbread House and a rendezvous with a friend for breakfast, a first time visit for both of us.

The restaurant operates in a sprawling 1885 farmhouse, complete with chicken coop (that point will become fairly important in a few moments), a small pond, a barn and a toolshed converted into an ice cream shop.

Spotting a prime parking spot, I spun the wheel and began the turn, only to spy this:

Ms. Clucky, showing me her tail and basically giving me
the bird.
Stunned, I stopped the car short and pulled out the camera, just in time for Ms. Clucky to turn her back. Oh well, I needed to pull the car forward a bit more...

In the time it took to put the camera away, the stupid chicken turned tail again, moseying out in front of my car. Counting slowly to five, I put the car in gear and inched forward, hoping that road kill chicken wasn't going to be on the day's menu.

A red painted tin ceiling graces the ceiling of the first floor of the farmhouse and sweet little gabled rooms make up the second floor, with plenty of alcoves for the gift shop items and, surprisingly, a darling little wine bar tucked into one of the old bedrooms.

The best feature, however, is the massive wraparound porch and deck. Scattered with patio tables and overflowing with flowers, it's a great place for a leisurely meal. Immediately to the left of my seat was an old, empty manger (this will become important in just a bit) with a huge, multicolored flowering plant hanging above it. This is the view directly in front of me:

The wire thing is a reclaimed metal sculpted chicken. The
plants are much nicer in person, even if I did miss the picture
of the gorgeous, monster-size pink begonia on the railing
to the left of the gentlemen in the back.
After breakfast, Renae and I sat talking for a while, watching the activity over at the pond (geese and chickens) and chuckling at the little kids' huge eyes as they spied the birds. Every so often one of the free-ranging birds would make its way up the steps to the deck, wander a bit and hop back down. One persistent chicken, however, decided to pull right up to our table.

Remember the manger that is about eight inches to the left of me in the picture above? Ms. Clucky wandered under our table, and before we knew it, jumped herself up onto the edge, then into the manger.

"What the - ! Isn't there supposed to be seed in here?"
Realize that the manger is only about a yard across; stripped, this is a nice, seven or eight pound roasting chicken. 

Figuring out there was no seed, the pea brain started eyeing our table for scraps. She managed to hop up onto the edge of the manger, for all the world as if she were a guest at our table and in on our conversation. Renae stuck her arm out to keep the errant bird from hopping onto the table.

After a minute or so of looking around, realizing no food was forthcoming, the bird hopped down to the deck, landing with a very solid thud.

So how much is free range chicken going for these days...?

It was a delightful morning. The food is excellent; the pastry case extremely well stocked. The only anachronism is actually a smart business move - there is a drive up window on one side of the building. Their coffee menu rivals the best of the international chains, and I can see where this would be a popular early morning stop.

I didn't want to come back to the city.

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