Published: August 26, 2023
By: By Susan Rosser
Several years ago, after a day visiting our kids at summer camp, my husband Richard and I were hot, sweaty and tired. As we checked in to the Cornerstone Victorian Bed and Breakfast, a fellow guest named Lori asked if we had ever stayed there. When we answered “no,” she launched into a detailed and ebullient description of the five-course breakfast we would enjoy the following morning. Lori was in the lobby to retrieve a piece of chocolate cake — an afternoon treat prepared by Louise, who, along with her husband Doug, owns and runs the Cornerstone Victorian in upstate New York.
Seven summers later, as we pulled into the Cornerstone Victorian for our annual camp visiting-day stay, I felt so grateful for this little inn that my eyes welled up with tears. It was dusk, and Louise was in the backyard weeding. The grounds are so impeccably kept, it was hard for me to imagine she could find a weed to pull. Nonetheless, there she was, ready with her huge smile and a welcoming hug. We went inside and spent a few minutes catching up.
Simply put, Louise and Doug are meant to be in the hospitality business. I suspect they are just naturally conscientious, both possessing a fastidious nature coupled with infectious smiles. To stay with them is a treat for the soul.
That first year, I told Richard to grab just one piece of the aforementioned chocolate cake to share in the room. Once I tasted it, I immediately sent him to claim our second piece. This was no ordinary chocolate cake. Louise can bake.
I also suspected our fellow guest Lori might have exaggerated how glorious the breakfast would be. The meal starts with a bowl of fresh fruit and a home-baked goodie. Sometimes it’s a pecan muffin. Sometimes it’s a cheese Danish. Sometimes it’s a crumb cake of sorts. It’s always fantastic. There are five rooms, and all the guests dine together at one long, beautifully-set table in the formal Victorian dining room. Richard and I looked forward to those breakfasts all year. And yes, visiting the kids at camp was a plus.
So that last year, when we pulled up and Louise welcomed us with a hug, I suddenly realized how lucky I was to have crossed paths with such exceptional people. Most of us can name people in our lives who are of great significance. Maybe it’s our parents, dependable friends, spouses or inspirational teachers.
But some cross our paths and enhance our lives with a lighter touch. And while it may not always be obvious, if we’re lucky, we become cognizant of the sum of those touches. Maybe it’s the librarian who always knows what book you will love; the checkout clerk who frequently asks about your day; or the UPS guy who consistently manages to be in a good mood — they may not rock your world, but they sure make life sweeter.
The next natural question is: Whose life am I enhancing? How can I be more like Doug and Louise?
The last time we visited the Cornerstone Victorian was the summer our youngest was a counselor-in-training at camp. It was a bittersweet summer for both of us. For our daughter, it was the last summer she would live in the Adirondacks with her closest friends for seven glorious weeks. And for Richard and me, it was our swan song at the Cornerstone Victorian. Yet, somehow I have a sneaking suspicion we will visit again. I’ve come to love those mountains. Maybe it’s just that they served as a summer home for my two children. Or perhaps it’s that visiting my kids up in the mountains of New York every summer was such a welcome reprieve. And then there’s just Doug and Louise and their perfect bed and breakfast.
Susan Rosser is the editor of South Florida Family Life. She often goes to bed dreaming about her morning cup of coffee.