In early June, Charley and I traveled to Stockbridge to continue marketing A Berkshire Tale. Nestled in a white, wicker, rocking chair on the front porch of the Red Lion Inn was ZuZu’s friend, Simon. I stopped for a moment to give my regards. He blinked an eye to show that he appreciated the head rub and then promptly went back to sleep. I truly have never met such a laid-back cat. He exudes a calmness only found in meditating Buddhists..
In the winter section of A Berkshire Tale, ZuZu visits the Inn tucked inside the grandmother’s quilting bag. She is introduced to the famous Simon Treadway Gato, Lobby Ambassador. They form a friendship much like the one I developed with him last Christmas when we first met.
That December, my husband and I had returned to the Inn from a performance of the radio version of It’s a Wonderful Life at Shakespeare and Company. It was snowing outside and I sat by the fireplace in the lobby while Charley went to get us a hot drink. On a red, velvet chair under the Christmas tree, a black and white cat slumbered, unperturbed by the cameras intermittently flashing around him. He was holding court in his sleep. I stood over him watching, then bent to pet his head. He didn’t move. Soft sounds, like a motorized purring machine, came from beneath the paw hiding his face. “Charley, look at this,” I whispered to my husband as he handed me a drink. Slowly a paw moved and the cat looked up at me, blinked, stood, turned twice in the chair and resumed his nap. This was the start of a beautiful relationship.
In the early hours of the next day, I dressed quietly and went in search of The Ambassador. I found him sprawled on the floor in the middle of the dining room, obviously waiting around just for me. I stroked his head for a while. Then, he stood up, yawned, stretched and led me to the lobby where we sat by the lit tree to watch the snow piling up in the darkness outside. I jotted down some story notes as he slept on the table in front of the cut glass bowl of spiced candies. The scraping sound of a plow outside eventually disturbed our reveries and I left him curled up in front of the fireplace to return to the room, my head filled with story ideas.
Later that morning Charley and I walked around Main Street taking winter photos to illustrate A Berkshire Tale.
We went back to the Inn and settled down in the Hitchcock Room on the second floor. With Christmas music, courtesy of Pandora on my iPad, he read as I continued to write the rest of the Christmas chapter. Simon was now a featured character. That afternoon Santa came to the Inn and I took photos for the December segment of the book. Since I collect Christmas books (more than three hundred), this section is now one of my favorites, especially since I was able to bring such a regal presence into the story plot..
Each time I return to the Inn, Simon is there to greet me. While writing one of the chapters centered around the Berkshire Botanical Garden, he dozed in a nearby chair in the side room, as I typed at the table. He followed me to my room and sat staring at me while I wrote the final pages. And when the book was published this spring, he was the first to greet me when I delivered copies to the Gift Shop.
Then, he patiently listened as I read to him from the Christmas chapter, his favorite, too. I guess you could say he’s acted as a bit of a Muse for me.
Some people probably are attracted back to the Inn because of him; or at least it would seem so from his Facebook page. (Yes, he has his own page – with a lot
more followers than I have.) He has true animal magnetism. If you are ever in Stockbridge, stop by the Red Lion Inn to visit with the Ambassador. I’m know he’ll lead you into the Gift Shop where you’ll find A Berkshire Tale on the table by the door. When you pick up your copy, I’m sure he’ll follow you out to the front porch where you can sit in a rocker enjoying a drink while you read a few pages with him. A perfect way to spend a quiet afternoon on Main Street in Stockbridge.