Springtime at the Watermill Station

Written By: Matthew Ryan

I recall springtime at the Watermill Station It’s the last weekend in the month of April. Blissfully on this Saturday, I awoke to filtered morning sunshine streaming in my room; strong rays of light were piercing around the corners of the drawn bedroom blinds. I roust to a standing stretch, my feet automatically finding my slippers, and then sliding into them as I hit the floor. I follow the aroma from the pre-set coffee pot already perking, enticing me by the scent of freshly roasted beans, and leading me downstairs to the kitchen. As I push open the swinging door; the glow of the early day illuminated the entire room. I walked to the counter and reached up raising the window, to my surprise feeling the incoming air as a cool splash, rather than a balmy light wind. Having poured the brew into my favorite mug, I sipped on the hot java, officially starting my day. Opening the patio doors the rays from the sunshine seemed warmer than the brisk breezes I had felt from the kitchen windows. There are sounds of spring and life jumping from branch to branch, ivory flowers on the dogwoods and pink blossoms in the cherry trees offering cover and camouflage to the flitting birds. Coffee in hand I gazed around my yard spotting the green and yellow sprouts of the returning tulips and daffodils. Suddenly the ringing from the portable phone interrupts my daydreaming; I instinctively press the talk button offering an exceptionally cheerful “Good morning”, surprisingly I get an equally pleasant “ Hello Matthew, I am so glad I was able to get you and not your voicemail, I hope that I didn’t call too early and wake you on this glorious morning!” Immediately I recognize Gail’s voice, and appreciate the kind sentiment as having a familiar ring. As a child I was often woken with similar words. “Wake up children, It’s a glorious day to be alive”, Nana would proclaim as she opened the shutters in the bedroom. “Oh Gailie” I offered playfully. “ I was just thinking about you”. It had recently occurred to me that with the onset of spring weather, like other proprietors Gail would be opening her place for the season. “Yes, I was counting on you for tonight, it’s opening night at the Bistro and we are short handed again.” Gail owned the Bistro, located at the end of Station Road. I had become her friend and her stand by; I was always willing to fill in when she found herself short staff at this charming inn. The brick building at the end of the gravel road was built about 1911; it was once a bustling railroad station, where the building doubled as a ticket office also a waiting room. The property was left abandoned in the 1960’s, remnant of a lost era of rail travel. The place stood vacant and in disrepair until being resurrected and operated as a bistro. The Station was an intimate dining spot offering French fare in a pre-war charming country setting. The place being located off the highway and the patrons having to drive down the long gravel road added some hidden speak-easy secrecy to the shabby chic destination. The allure of the reincarnated railroad station swept people away, turning back time as they entered the authentic bar car embracing a bit of old world glamour and even mystery. After all, how many of us have been intrigued by the possibilities of dining or riding on the Orient Express? Gail had mastered the art of making people feel like they all were celebrities. She was a skilled hostess, drawing on her twenty years as a stewardess for the once famed Pan Am airline. All of the Bistro’s guests were welcomed as though they were first class passengers, offering personal service with an airline greeting. The charm of the place was inherent to the structure itself. In addition to an original bar car, the main building ticket window was used as a service area, the domed ceiling waiting room was a comfy main dining area. In the dinning room all the tables were covered by hand made green and white plaid table cloths, single bud flower vases held a single tulip stem adding a splash of delicate pinks and yellows to contrast the green cloths. The cabinets in the corner of the room held large vases of seasonal fresh flowers, this time of year they had been forsythia with their yellow blooms indiscriminatingly placed in the vases, long stems almost weeping as if they didn’t care. To many, the atmosphere in the room conjured up images of a staged Hollywood movie set, and that atmosphere was enhanced by the array of wealthy society types and movie star patrons who frequented the chic epicurean hideaway. “Yes Gail, of course I’ll see you, tonight 4:30, ” I said. “ Wonderful to see you then Matthew”, Gail closed our conversation with her best Pan Am voice. I must admit that when pulling onto the Bistro property and passing through the alley of old maple trees, the scent of honeysuckle in the air lingers sweetly in memory. So, once again on that Saturday night I walked by the flowerbeds at the front door bursting with a plethora of colored pansies, richly fragrant, the plantings almost as inviting as the candle lit tables and sounds of La Vie en Rose playing. It felt like opening night, and it felt like spring again at the Station Bistro in the Hampton’s.