The Golden Tea Pot
She delivered the most apologetic ‘no’ I’d ever heard, but then placed me on hold and returned to ask if I could come at 3:30 p.m. She had found a way to squeeze me in. I was to call back if I decided it worked for me. The next day I phoned The Golden Teapot and Linda told me to come any time after one; a party had left quickly to catch a show. She agreed to sit with me and answer some questions about Glenhyrst Gardens, but my ‘Leni-sense’ told me that she’d be the story.
I arrived at a house with a golden teapot hanging from a post out front, but I found myself being greeted in a gallery lobby. Having thought I’d taken the wrong door I said, “Hi. Can you direct me to the Golden Teapot entrance?” He said, “Let me get Linda.” Linda was elegant and had the warm face of a Disney princess. I stood in front of her looking like a disheveled, long-haired Indiana Jones, but she didn’t look me over, bat an eye, or stutter.
She flashed a trademark-worthy smile and said “Hi. You must be Leni. So glad you made it.”
I flashed my own trademark at her and said, “Thanks for taking me in.”
“Well, you sounded weary from the road and I just had to find a way.” I had told her I was coming through the city on my drive home and thought I’d take a break before heading the rest of the way.
I was led into an open room with an art collection. There was a table by the window which I’d assumed was meant to direct people to the tea room. When I was finished taking a photo she told me to have a seat. Linda saw my confusion and explained that the table had been set so that I could be accommodated. She’d gone through the trouble of getting permission to place a table in the gallery.
Linda left to enchant the party in the adjacent room before she returned to sit with me. We spoke about the Gardens and then we ‘talked life’.
Linda had always visited the Gardens. At 15 she would spend time there with a boy. “It had always been” their “place.” ‘They’ are coming up on 40 years. At that point I realized I was speaking to a woman that was older than she looked.
In 2007, on a stroll through the Gardens with her husband, Brian, she pressed her face up against the window and said, “This space would make a cute tea room.” At the time a store occupied the space and they had their own beloved business. In 2010 when her 30-year old gift store took a massive blow during the recession it was heartbreaking for them. Linda happened to run into the Mayor’s wife at an event and the gallery store’s poor performance came up in conversation. She found herself suggesting a tea room. The Mayor’s wife said, “Why don’t you do it.” Linda never thought she’d see her ‘tea room vision’ come to life. After trying to manage both businesses, they had to let the gift store go. She looked happy when she said, “It’s funny how life worked out.” I said, “It’s serendipity.” and she replied, “Just like us sitting here right now.”
I was introduced to the charming Brian. Eventually I got up to pay and leave. She said, “Oh, I am so glad you came. You haven’t had a chance to go through the entire house.” “You can show it to me the next time I come through.” I had to fight her to pay which speaks volumes about how I looked and how gracious she is. She gave me a hug and I went on my way with a promise to be back.
I left when I was initially supposed to arrive, and wished I could turn around to fill the 3:30 time slot.