Memoirs & Reflections of Tea Kettle Inn Owner Patricia Tompkins

Spring has sprung!

baby-hank-391It’s the first day of Spring and it feels like Summer!  Daffodil stalks have been growing since February.  Passing through town, I see many gardens are in full bloom, but no blooms on our north facing beds yet.  I think the forsythia know when Spring arrives; just yesterday there were only buds, but today’s warm temperatures (72ƒ) kicked them into high gear – the forsythia is in full butter-yellow glory.

This Winter, being so mild, I just wonder what’s in store for our Summer.  Only one major snow storm, early in October; Kevin says we need rain – preparing the gardens, he found the earth to be very dry already.  The “Mud Sales” around Lancaster County have been more like “Dust Sales”!

Around the Inn, some new arrivals:

Kevin re-purposed a door found in the barn to close off what we call our pantry.  So in the colder months, besides having a cold storage, it’s one less room to heat.

Curtains magically appeared in the kitchen, finally!  Those elves sure took their sweet old time.  Seriously though, thanks to friend Barb Kolb, our kitchen feels cozier and more finished.

Some new shops in town:  Stiegel Glassworks, 210 South Charlotte Street behind the RR station; B&K Country Crafts & Quilts, 55 South Grant Street working out of Bonnie’s garage; City Star Diner, 665 Lancaster Road (Route 72) formerly Baron’s Diner (formerly Lyndon Diner).

baby-isabel-10New in the Tompkins family:  grandbabies Henry James – December 2011 (Jon & Shannon) in NY and Isabel Grace – February 2012 (Dan & Viviana) in FL.  We’ll get to see the whole gang here in May when they all come for a visit!

The grass is greening up, it’ll be soon time for Kevin to mow the lawn – he decided to take the snowblower off the tractor, hopefully we won’t get a late-Spring-early-Summer snow storm, just rain, PLEASE!!!

Teapot bird

carolina-wren1Watching the birds this winter, I am reminded of an incident last Spring when cleaning off the front porch.  I kept hearing a bird call/song quite distinctive.  This happened for a while and the next time I went out, I heard it again.  On this occasion though, as I was cleaning, a bird flew right by me and into the teapot house hanging above the steps.  I got a fairly good look at it since it was hopping around on the porch ledge a while before.

I ran straight to my Audubon Field Guide and flipped through the Perching birds – there are lots of perching birds!  I decided that with the eyebrow stripe and colorings it was a Carolina Wren.  Flipping to the back for the description and …what a wild surprise!  If I may quote Audubon, “Voice: Loud whistledtweedle-tweedle-tweedle or tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle, sung all day long in all seasons.”  You can’t make this stuff up!  How cool is that?!  Hopefully our resident Carolina Wren will return again this Spring.

Winter birds…

black-capped chickadeeChickadees and Juncos are plentiful at the feeder this winter – they fight the squirrels for elbow room at the trough.  I’ve seen the odd Red-bellied Woodpecker show up amongst the more common Downys, scared away by the ugly, aggressive Starlings – yet the Starlings are skittish when I approach the kitchen window.  Many others have shown up in this particularly cold weather:  White-breasted Nuthatch, White-throated Sparrow, House Sparrow, House Finch, Northern Cardinal, and Northern Mockingbirds.

As I stand at the kitchen window looking out at the snow-covered drive and rail bed, watching the birds and squirrels attack the feeder and suet, I can’t help but think of the Bible verses Matthew 6:25-34. “…do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself…”  Yet listening to the recent news, it is hard not to be anxious about the days ahead.  I pray for the people in the conflicting countries, for the journalists trying to cover the stories, and mostly for all those in leadership that they may find peaceful resolutions to the uprisings.


How does one start a blog, particularly  if your life as an innkeeper began six years ago and is ongoing?  Do you start at the beginning?  Reflect on the past in small increments?  Start in the middle, or right now, where you are and go forward?  This is my dilemna!

The impetus of writing, of keeping a “journal”, was primarily to keep everyone abreast of the news and happenings at the Tea Kettle Inn, and to share our lives as innkeepers as we love to share our home with our guests.  So, this is, in part, a welcome letter to all to join in the conversations, share and exchange experiences about Lancaster County, Manheim, and the surrounding area about what our guests have discovered travelling in this region of the country and what I’ve discovered about owning a small business, a bed and breakfast, in Pennsylvania.

I’ve decided, therefore, to begin today, reflecting on our purchase of the home in September 2003.  As you may have read on the “About Us” page on our website, Kevin transferred employment with Yellow Freight in NY State to the Lancaster terminal in East Petersburg.  We travelled to Lancaster in July 2003 to spend a ‘blitzkreig’ of a weekend looking at real estate in hopes of finding the “perfect” house.  457 South Main Street was the third house we viewed and fell in love with all the woodwork on the first floor: fretwork in the two entryways from the hall to the dining room and from the hall to the parlor, and the floor inlay – different patterns in each of the rooms on the first floor.

After seeing seven more houses and calling it a weekend – we made a decision to put an offer on 457 South Main Street.  After all the negotiations (and worry about owning two homes for three months), we had a new home in Manheim, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Today, after returning home from a Manheim Chamber of Commerce mixer, I reflected on the many times I’ve told our story – how we came to be here, here in Lancaster, here, owning a bed and breakfast – I think we all start out on a journey and  circumstances, events, and life skills – bit and pieces along the way – help shape us into who God wants us to be and when we look back and recognize that “aha” moment that there was a plan, a reason for that experience, God was preparing us for just this place, for just this time.

“And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14

More passages to be published – meet me here!

Patty Tompkins

Tea Kettle Inn
Bed & Breakfast

(717) 665-0171

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