Return to Riversleigh

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I step out of the forest into a clearing. Riversleigh Manor lies just ahead. I take a deep breath and inhale the fresh clean air. I have been away from Riversleigh for far too long. But, if there’s one thing I know about Riversleigh Manor and its mistress Sibyl Riversleigh, it’s that I will be welcomed back with open arms. I take in the view and feel a sense of calm washing over me. Riversleigh. It may not be my family home but it is home nonetheless. It has always been a place that I could depend on for comfort, for support, for inspiration. I smile.

And then…worry, insidious as it is, creeps in. What if the manor is full? What if there are no rooms available? What if no one is home? I had heard rumours that Sibyl was planning to embark on some new excursion (as is often her way…I bet L’Enchanteur is the impetus behind this latest venture. Something to do with a cruise? Sounds like her cup of tea for sure.) Another deep breath. “Stop that!” I tell myself. “You are getting ahead of yourself. Just go up to the door and knock!” I take one step forward. One more deep breath. I straighten my cape, adjust my gloves, and steel myself for what may come next. “Enough,” I say aloud, somewhat louder than I intended.

A voice, this time not my own, asks “Well, are you just going to stand there all day or are you going to come inside?” I look up to see Regina Stoby standing in the doorway to the manor. “Come come now,” she says. “We’ve been expecting you. Colleen has aired out your room and freshened things up a bit in there. She knows how much you love fresh flowers…freesia is your favourite is it not?”

I stand mute just staring into Regina’s (Matron as we call her) kind eyes. “I don’t understand,” I say, almost in a whisper. “I didn’t tell anyone I was coming. I didn’t even know it myself until there I was, duffle bag over my shoulder, headed down the path into the forest.” Matron simply laughed. “Come child,” she says. “Come inside and warm yourself by the fire. You are shivering and must be weary from your long journey back to us.” I am confused, but I obediently walk towards her.

She slips a cozy rug around my shoulders and embraces me. “You have been missed,” she tells me as she leads me into the house. “Come sit by the fire. Ebony has a pot of her famous chicken soup simmering on the stove for you.” She leads me to a large wing chair and I sink into it. Ahhhhh. The tension in my body begins to fade as Matron places a small tray on the table beside me. A bowl of Ebony’s chicken soup, a cup of warm milk and honey, and a small plate of delicious looking scones. “From the tea room?” I ask. Matron smiles and nods. “Bridgette made them fresh when she heard you were coming.” I hadn’t realized how hungry I was until I saw the food she had placed before me. It tastes even better than I remember.

I feel my body sink deeper into the chair. My eyelids flutter as I unsuccessfully try to fight back sleep. I feel Matron’s gentle hands pull the rug up, tucking me in like a mother with her child. Her voice sounds far away. “Sleep child sleep.” My mind fights against sleep. I have so many questions to ask, starting with how did they all seem to know that I was coming? As if she could read my thoughts, Matron replies, “There will be plenty of time for questions later. Now you must rest.” Her voice sounds so far away and I realize that I cannot fight the sleep. “That’s it child,” she says. “Just let go.” As I drift away, it occurs to me that Matron has been calling me child. It’s been so long since anyone referred to me as a child. I think I like it.

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Published in: on December 29, 2008 at 3:50 am  Comments (6)  
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Cyn’s Room

 

With a combination of trepidation and excitement, I entered my new room at Riversleigh manor. Excitement because this feels like the beginning of a new, wonderful adventure….trepidation because…..well…I will explain that anon. I turn the key in the lock and hear the sliding metal click and clank into place. I turn the knob slowly, cautiously, and step into my room….nay not just my room but my future. Perhaps that is where some of trepidation comes from. My future – fear of the unknown.

As I walked into the room, I realized I had closed my eyes and held my breath. Opening my eyes just a slit and peering through my lashes, I exhaled sharply. It was an exhale of deep relief and it was then that I realized the biggest reason for my previous worries about my room. I had this vision of the Manor house. I pictured elegant, sumptuous rooms, lavish, elaborate décor….silks, velvets, huge imposing furniture….all of that which comes to mind when you hear the word Manor. In particular, with the description I had been given of the beautiful Lady Riversleigh, I was sure that she and her surroundings would be lush and richly attired. To my great relief, my room was none of those.

Don’t get me wrong. It is a beautiful room. In fact, I could picture no more beautiful room than this but it is tastefully decorated in a simple manner. The décor hints of a time gone by. It speaks of early pioneer days and yet hints at a past that was somewhat more elegant. I got the picture of someone leaving a well-to-do home in Europe, bringing with them their furniture and belongings to settle in Canada and begin a new life as an early pioneer. The furnishings were simple wooden structures but boasted small intricate details common to Victorian times. The dresser and wash stand had marble tops on them and over the mirrors, there were carved details of swirls, curves, and a few carefully placed small flowers. The drawer pulls also boasted the same small intricacies on them looking much like brass medallions with angels’ wings attached. The bed, matching the other furniture, had a very high head board to it, reaching right up to the ceiling and also sporting the same carved detail as the rest of the furniture.

The bed was made with piles of pillows and handmade quilts, faded with time, but beautiful pieces of art nonetheless. On the washstand there was a pitcher and bowl set handpainted with huge glorious cabbage roses and green leafy accents and had next to them, a small stack of bath linens. The linens were trimmed with exquisitely handstitched lace trim and were well worn into that lovely soft state that only the oldest, most well –used and well-loved fabrics can have. I picked one up and rubbed it gently against my cheek before continuing my survey of the room. At the foot of the bed there was an old “hope chest”, lined with cedar to keep away those pesky moths and filled with additional bed and bath linens as well as some of the loveliest dressing gowns I had ever seen. Again, they were simple; white, trimmed with handmade lace of the softest sort and made of a fabric that just begged to be touched. There were even warm fuzzy slippers in the trunk!

As I looked at my surroundings, I felt such a sense of calm and comfort come over me. Whoever had set this room up for me had clearly done their homework. This room spoke of me and to me like none I had ever seen even in my own home. In fact, the furnishings for the most part duplicated those in my own home with some additions that made the space simply perfect. Had I been put into the luxurious, fancy room I had envisioned, my stay might not have been a very long one. I couldn’t envision myself being comfortable in such a room no matter how gorgeous it would have been. And with the dark times I have been battling in my life, I so craved comfort just now. If there were such a thing as “comfort food” for the soul, this room clearly fit the bill. I am so grateful and appreciative of whomever arranged this for me. This is truly just what I need and I can feel the darkness lifting already.

I hear a knock at the door and open it to see Matron standing there bearing a tray of the marvellous chicken soup I have heard of and been so craving, along with freshly baked bread rolls that she informs me have just come out of the oven. She informs me proudly that her daughter Roberta is responsible for making these rolls and declares them better than any I will ever taste! They certainly smell delicious. For a “sweet treat” she has also included some small tea cakes also baked by her daughter. Also on the tray is a pot of tea and a vase of Colleen’s lovely roses. The aroma from them competes with that from the bread as being absolutely so beautiful that it’s entrancing. Matron tells me that she hears I have been feeling poorly and so the teapot contains a tea made of Loretta’s special herbal blend. She says it will have me feeling better in no time. I am already headed in that direction with all the hospitality I have felt since arriving at the Manor. I am further informed that Loretta has offered me her services as an acupuncturist (yum! I do love acupuncture and find it helps me to feel so much better when my bones and muscles are aching) and that the stables stand ready whenever I am prepared to begin my horseback riding lessons. Now how did Matron know I had been wanting such lessons?

I crawl into bed with my tray of goodies, outfitted in a lovely dressing gown and bedsocks to keep my toes toasty. A fire was started in the fireplace from me and it looks and feels heavenly. I am wrapped in the soft comfort of a quilt and with every breath I take I can feel the tension leaving my body. Riversleigh is clearly just what I have been needing and I look forward to what the following days here will bring.

Originally written and posted on Dec. 30, 2006

Published in: on December 21, 2008 at 2:30 am  Leave a Comment