Photos © J. Lowe 2008
In planning a road trip to take me around northwestern Michigan and into the Upper Peninsula, I stumbled across some reviews on tripadvisor.com of a b&b in Northport on the western peninsula called the Old Mill Pond Inn. These are snippets from some of the user reviews:
“our wives were actually frightened to stay there’
“straight out of a horror movie”
“something is definitely amiss at the Old Mill Pond. Run!!! “
“This is a FABULOUS and eclectic feast of a destination!”
Isn’t diversity great? Sadly, most people in this world are really annoying and should just stay at home getting fat or fit in front of the television.
The owner of the Old Mill Pond is David Chroback, an artist who has lived there for 25 years and has run his B&B for about that long too. He also caters food and organises all sorts of events in the area. As I travelled around visiting various farms and wineries, I would mention his name and people’s faces would light up with recognition. By all accounts he is deeply respected by many people for miles around.
I spent three nights at the Old Mill Pond Inn. On approaching the driveway I was greeted by a replica Beefeater in his sentry box, self – proclaiming redundancy and in the distance on the lawn, a large breasted, bra and panty clad wooden cut-out woman declaring herself ready to whip me into shape. The house and garden is an eclectic and passionate series of vignettes. He has amassed collections of objects, from the glittering to the kitsch, primitive to iconic, wacky to interesting. David’s home and the six rooms he has for guests are a veritable circus of ideas. With delightful irreverence, he moves gently and generously through the world creating magical scenes, gesturing opinion respectfully and shunning conformity politely.
Our breakfasts on his wrap around verandah were beautiful and delicious.
French toast croissants, a delicate omelette, blueberry pancakes, each dish decorated with fresh fruit and a garnish from his beautiful garden.
He has an ingenious way of growing tomatoes in a hanging black bucket, using pipe and connectors as the means by which to hang the heavy receptacle. Second year round he admitted is the much improved version. Anyone with a spot of outdoors, be it acreage or balcony, could grow themselves a tricolore salad or a marinara dish by this method.
My experience at The Old MIll Pond Inn reminded me of how straight and narrow life can be sometimes. I used to live in a town where the lawn police would come and stake the ground if the grass was over a certain length. I don’t have a garden at all now, I just have 2 lovely window boxes full of herbs. I’d kind of like a garden again some day, preferably roof top and I’ll be sure to remember David’s palace of imagination.