As I drive down Route 517 toward Lisbon, making my way to the Inn at Willow Pond, my mind is swimming with tasks I have to complete, obligations I have to uphold and a schedule with not a moment to spare.
Coming over a hill, I see the tip of a yellow barn, nestled among weeping willow trees. A large house sits just below, surrounded by evergreens.
"Picturesque," I think, my mind starting to relax.
As I pull into the driveway, I am greeted with hundreds of colorful tulips lining the drive. The walkway is just as inviting, peppered with daffodils and grape hyacinth and the remnants of last year's lavender. My schedule is becoming fuzzier every moment.
Bea Delpapa answers the door with a warm and friendly smile. As she ushers me through the inn, showing me the Mexican folk art that fills its walls, my eye catches sight of the sliding glass door.
The landscape: Beyond the door is a tastefully decorated terrace. Beyond the terrace is a sprawling, lush, green lawn with just the right amount of slope leading to the pond, which is lined with huge weeping willows.
Two lawn chairs sit, facing the pond. At this point, I have completely forgotten why I have come to the inn. I simply must sit in one of those chairs and take in this setting.
In a most rude fashion, I look past Bea as she is speaking and walk, as if in a trance, to one of the lawn chairs. Bea politely follows, seeming to understand.
Instantly, every worry, care and deadline I have been concerned about vanishes as I soak in the beauty and serenity of my surroundings.
The long willow wisps are blowing in the breeze; birds are chirping; the water is gently rippling.
I have a sudden urge to trade my reporter's notebook and pen for an easel and palette ... or, maybe, I'd rather be equipped with a basket and clippers to create a wildflower bouquet. Even I could do wonders with a camera in this setting, I think to myself. Then again, I seem to do best with words. A big, empty notebook and a nice felt pen would be a dream.
"This place gets the creative juices flowing," I say to Bea as I regain my senses.
This is not news to Bea.
Workshops: She and her husband, Chuck, opened their home to bed and breakfast guests in 1998. In 2000, Bea began to play host to workshops for artists and writers.
"People come to our workshops from all over the country," Bea says, smiling. The professional artists and writers who teach the workshops come from afar as well. But the "Family Stories Workshop," from June 1 to 3, will have a local flair.
Carmen Leone of Poland and Bob Calcagni of Boardman will be presenting information and ideas on how to develop genealogical facts into story form.
Books: Carmen has become nationally known for his books "Rose Street" and "Rose Street Revisited" -- a factual account of his family's history on Rose Street in Youngstown.
The historical novel was originally written as a gift to his family. "My parents were very special people," Carmen says. "It would have been too bad if those stories had been lost because nobody wrote them down."
Bob, Carmen's cousin, consulted on both books and wrote the epilogue for "Rose Street."
Together, the two men have written a third book titled "Remembering Our Rose Streets: A Guide for Collecting and Writing Family Stories."
"Writing down stories about people make them real," Bob explains. "More than just a name on a chart."
Through the workshop, they will share their experience and expertise with those aspiring to preserve their family histories.
Some looking to make the past come alive will find inspiration under the weeping willows. Others will choose the bench in the flower garden. All will write their family stories as they bask in a storybook setting at the Inn at Willow Pond.
To register for the workshop, go to www.willowpondbb.com or call (330) 424-4660.