While final preparations were being made for the main event, I slipped into both guest tours of Gene's home. Upon first entrance I found myself surrounded by gorgeous woodwork with the owner's intials expertly worked into the dark wood's design. Having grown up in a turn of the century home in Sherwood, OH, I expected the typical cream and dark wood color schemes
but was very impressed by how she really did build this home as she saw fit and in accordance with her vision of the perfect lake home. Our guide pointed out the many amenitites included in the house that we present day take for granted but that Gene insisted upon...and received. From the icebox tucked conveniently yet out of the way in the far southwest corner of the kitchen, to the famed bay window with the "million dollar view" of Lake Sylvan (and a darkroom- yay!), the cabin's design is a testament to Gene's impecable sense for blending the pragmatic with artistry. Of course, anxious youngsters in attendance enjoyed the room containing the nature collection the most, while we old and dusty adults wishfully awed at the walls of elongated windows sagged with age but still stunningly showcasing a relaxing view of the gardens. After everyone had gotten comfortably used to each other and allowed themselves to look around and take in the elegant subtleties of Gene's design, our tour came to a close; all filed out eagerly to head up to the visitor's center for the main event.
Ascending to the top floor of the visitors' center, guests were greeted by Victorian era melodies courtesy of Indiana's own Weather Girls. With Nancy Blough (founder of the Northeast Indiana Folk Music and Instrument Gathering, Inc.) strumming a mountain dulcimer while Lois Loucks provided accompaniment on autoharp, participants found their place cards and settled in for an afternoon of turn of the century food and entertainment.
In a true Victorian tea atmosphere complete with a cute little table reserved and already occupied by teddy bears and dollies among the decor, some of the nicest Hoosiers I have met to date began serving mint garnished tea and delicacies onto eclectic, but oh so charmingly ornate, china.
And the food!!!!!! The pictures should speak for themselves...it was art and, if you can fathom, it's presentation to one's tastebuds was even greater than to the eye. Bravo volunteers!
Guest speakers, jokes, and audience members joining the Weather Girls for a few numbers rounded out the afternoon. Finally, guests with bellies full and faces smiling parted ways taking fond memories home, perhaps anticipating next year ...or at least the Autumn Tea.
(Be sure to your spot this fall for the noon, Monday, October 19th festivities!)
-Alaina Carnahan, blogger/photographer/volunteer
Photos courtesy www.aceofimages.com