SHOW NOTES & TRANSCRIPT
Keep calm and drink a pumpkin spice latte. Welcome, weary travelers, to The Inn Between. Join Gabriela Jones, a recent botany undergrad, in her new job as Innkeeper near the rural town of Shearwater.
New episodes bi-weekly on the quarter moon. Written and read by Bailey Loveless
TIP YOUR INNKEEPER at Ko-Fi to keep the show advertisement free and access bonus content.
A special thank’s to Faerily Rowanwind for contributing the beautiful letter featured in this episode. Faerily is a collector and recorder of stories that need to be told. Sometimes it comes in the form of letters or poems or actual stories or actual things. In her off time, she masquerades as one Chasity Anderson. A young woman who has a BFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Afterward, through a series of serendipitous events, she became a Teacher of the Visually Impaired. She has been in her current occupation as a teacher for around ten years. If you needed to locate her she lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and removes the mask at night. You can follow her on Instagram at @faerilyrowanwind.
Submit your prose and poetry for season two! Read guestbook submission guidelines here
LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This podcast is inspired by and recorded on the Indigenous lands of the Coast Salish people of the Pacific Northwest. We celebrate and honor these ancestral lands and their stewards--past, present, and future.
THEME MUSIC: Yonder Dale / Tiny Surprises / courtesy of www.epidemicsound.com
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Welcome, weary travelers, I’m Gabriela Jones, the new innkeeper of The Inn Between, where the trees are green, the rooms are cozy, and the guests sometimes are just regular guys with interesting hobbies. Whether you’re listening for the first time or have been here before, come on in and prop up your feet—metaphorically speaking of course—and pour yourself a cup of coffee. Or a lot of cups of coffee. Either way, just make sure it’s your favorite kind of coffee.
Whether you measure the seasons by the astronomical or meteorological calendar, summer is certainly fading away and I’m so excited that it’s finally September. While the kids haven’t gone back to school just yet and the days are still long, the temperature is still warm enough to wear shorts but not so hot that you can’t wear a cardigan on top. My squash plants are starting fruit, the wild blackberries are ripening, and everything is still green. But you can sense autumn just lurking around the corner as if one strong breeze might blow it in. You can feel it nearby when you look longingly at your favorite sweater in the closet accompanied by the overwhelming desire for pumpkin spice everything.
And after the last couple of sad and uncomfortable incidents, I’m happy to report that today I’m going to tell you a nice, calm, relatively normal story. But that being said, for me, it may have been the most frightening and anxiety-producing event to date. Because yes, Mom and Dad, you will be particularly pleased to find out that I went on a date-date.
But before we get to that, I do have an update on the previous episode’s events with the black stag. The night after I received the note from Mr. Leake, I had the most curious dream. I dreamed that I was walking down the hallway, the walls still full of holes and scratches. I dreamed that I walked past the broken front window through the living room, and towards the corner where the door with the sleeping bear is tucked away. But in the dream, the door of the study was not locked. In fact, it was swung right open. And inside at the center of the room was a desk and a shelf, but I wouldn’t really call it a study. On each wall was another door, although these ones were closed. And the room was not empty either. In front of the desk were two men. In the dream, their backs were turned to me, but I could see that one had silver-grey hair and wore a long dark coat and that the other had black hair and wore jeans and a t-shirt. The two were talking but I could not hear what they saying to one another. Then, as if they had just noticed me, they both began to turn. And then I woke up.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but the dream felt so real that when I got up in the morning, the first thing I did was go downstairs and check and see if the study door was still locked. It was, but miraculously, the window was fixed and the hallway looked as good as new.
I don’t know how Mr. Leake does it, but I’m just happy to still have my job.
Now. For the date. First, I would like the record to state that I’ve never met someone I’ve met through work before, and second, that I am telling only this story with the permission of all parties involved without any coercion. After all, he is a radio guy after all.
Frank arrived at the inn with a curious amount of baggage for a young man not much older than me booked only to stay for a handful of days. He kept fumbling with his glasses and his curly, blonde hair after setting it down in the foyer and coming up to the reception desk, which I found very endearing and cute.
“Frank,” I said as I read the name on the reservation. “Do you like hot dogs?”
He gave me a blank stare, and I’m quite sure I must have turned beet red at my failed attempt at a joke.
“Will you need with your bags?” I said, indicating his luggage as I handed over the key to the Mouse Room.
“No,” he said, filling out his breakfast request form. “I got it. That’s my equipment. It’s all pretty fragile.”
We didn’t really speak much after that. He took his breakfast in his room. In the afternoons, he came and went often, always keeping to himself and bogged down with equipment. He wore the biggest headphones I’d ever seen and had all sorts of gadgets on him at all times, like a megaphone/sci-fi-looking device (which I later learned was something called a parabolic dish) and giant antennas that he would point in different directions, which made him look like a sort of cute garden bug. And I remembered exactly how he liked his coffee: a very practical and straightforward Americano. But I fully admit that should I find someone attractive, I try to appease them with offerings of good food and well-made coffee.
Maybe Frank might have noticed because when the night before he checked out, he came down the stairs and told me that while my coffee was super good, he was heading out before sunrise and wouldn’t need me to bring up breakfast for him.
“Long drive home?” I asked him, handing him the bill.
“Not really. But there are a couple of spots out in the woods I want to check out before I drive back to Seattle.”
“Is that for finding sound waves or something?” I said, pointing to one of his doo-dad gadgets.
“Yes,” Frank said. “I’m something of a radio technician.”
“Hear anything interesting while you were here?”
“Actually I did,” he said, checking his watch. “It’s getting late, but before I drive back tomorrow afternoon, would you be available for meeting up for coffee in town? Then I can tell you more about it.”
“And tell me if you find anything out in the woods I should be worried about,” I said.
He gave a small chuckle and after searching on his phone for a spot to meet, we settled on Sugar Moon Coffeehouse down in Shearwater at 2 pm the next day. Sure enough, when I got up in the morning, he was already gone, but fortunately, he was courteous enough to pick up most of his room so I was able to get my work done quickly. But before I got on my bike to ride to Shearwater, I decided to check the post box. Inside was a rather curious letter.
For one, it was addressed not to me, not to the Inn, and not to Mr. Leake, but to, and I quote, “the tree we carved our names into when we were 15.” Opening it up, I saw that the letter was written on beautiful stationery, the kind that reminds me of the letters my grandmother used to send me for my birthday. It read,
“It has been quite a long time since we have even given thought to you. To your branches reaching into the sky and up towards the sun's warmth. And for that we are sorry. We think we remember it being a warm day, but we can’t quite agree on what season it was. The memory has aged like a well-kept cast-iron pan that has never seen a drop of soap. Our memory has grown fuzzy as though the storms we weathered and the dry times we outlasted have slowly carved out a piece of who we were, the same as we used to carve pieces out of you. It was a promise in your back that when we said forever, we meant it.
But you made a promise too. And just as surely as we wear the weathering of the years on our skin, you too wear it on your bark and deep in your wood. Except the only way to know your harsh times would be to cut you down and examine the story in your rings. And we want you to never be cut down.
When we left you there, those wild years behind us filled with laughter, long days, and long nights, we had an idea that we would be young forever. We used to lay on quilted blankets and watch the stars move slowly through the sky, not knowing that we were the ones moving at the speed of light. It seems in a single blink were in the now. We had grown branches of our own. We had nurtured seedlings that sprouted into their own beings. And soon they were nurturing children of their own.
Now as we sit here together, we can see that everything is drawing to a close. The sun is setting in the distance. And now we realize that we left our names in you, picked up our things, and never returned. We think it is strange how now that we work our way through the last bits of ourselves, like the last pages of a story, we are just simple pieces of paper. As the book comes to an end and we try to ease the upcoming burdens of orphanhood, our minds turn back to you and the wild days that we can’t quite remember. The place where we made so many promises. The place where, at the end, we came out with love. The place that we remember fondly... as home.
The names carved just under your branch on the left side facing toward the rising sun”
You know, I think at some point we all meet someone whose name we carve a place out for. Not just on a tree, which as a botanist, I don’t quite endorse, but deep inside in our hearts. At least I hope so. I haven’t found a person to put my initials next to, on a tree, or anywhere else. But it was the first time in a long while that I’d been both anxious and excited to meet someone and I genuinely was interested in hearing more about what Frank did, so I considered the letter a good omen as I rode my bike down into Shearwater. Admittedly, I was also looking forward to trying the coffee at Sugar Moon, one of the many shops in town I haven’t had time or reason to visit yet, and see if their lattes were as good as mine.
I will say that if I were to ever open a coffee shop, Sugar Moon Coffeehouse is just what I would want it to be like. The outside was covered in ivy that grew up the side of the building and over a cafe awning shading a cute patio, which looked like the perfect spot to read or have lunch with a friend or chat with someone on a date…Inside, it was decorated with more house plants than I could name offhand and tastefully decorative garden gnomes on shelves beside them. A streamer of moons hung across the coffee bar, and everything was bright and earthy and the smell. Oh my god, the smell of coffee and vanilla mixed with the daffodils growing in the window was to die for.
The lady behind the counter had beautiful hair that curled in every direction. She leaned towards me draped in a yellow shawl and gave me a friendly and knowing smile.
Frank waved to me from by the window where he had already settled in with his laptop and radio receivers. To be honest, I was a little disappointed because I wanted to sit outside. For one, having worked as a barista myself, I know that they can be a little nosey and I thought I would’ve preferred being away from the prying eyes of the lady behind the counter. And seeing all of his things all over the table, I also hoped Frank wouldn’t spend the whole time looking at his laptop, but with all his stuff out I felt bad asking him to move.
“I waited for you before I ordered,” Frank said as I took a seat.
I told him I genuinely appreciated him waiting for me, and trying to be a good sport, I also asked him to tell me more about his work. The conversation went something like this.
“What is it that you do?” I said.
“I just completed my master’s in Radio Frequency Engineering. Now I’m working at the university near my house,” said Frank.
“Wow, I’d love to get a master’s someday.”
“It seems like you’re doing alright without one,” said Frank. “Do you really need a master’s to work in hospitality?”
“Oh no,” I said. “This is just a job at the Inn. I’m a botanist. Or at least I would like to be.”
“Oh,” he said.
“What are you researching at the university?” I asked.
“I’m doing a study on radio communications between foreign entities,” he said. “Specifically on numbers stations.”
“What are those?” I asked.
“They’re short wave radio broadcasts used by undercover intelligence officers,” he said.
“You mean like spies?”
“Yes! Exactly,” he said. “Right now, we can hear radio transmissions of governments and foreign powers at work over the air. If you have the right equipment that is.”
“So are you looking for one of those stations?” I said.
“Yes, on my visit I was detecting radio frequency due to the unusual amount of radio wave activity in the area. I thought it might denote the presence of one of a station. But unfortunately for me, I was unable to record any sort of evidence. I did, however, get some interesting readings I’d like to show you.”
Now as a botanist enthusiast myself, I know I’ve seen the look in people’s eyes and the way they glaze over when I get into all the technical aspects and vocabulary of my field. So I tried very hard not to do the same as Frank tried to explain what all of his readings meant and how all of the technology worked. If you’re listening, Frank, I promise I did my best not to do the same as you explained everything to me! And as I said earlier, I distinctly remember the parabolic dish!
I have a sneaking suspicion though, and Frank feel free to call me out on this, that I wasn’t doing a very good job because the barista behind the counter chose to close in soon after that.
“Pardon me,” she said, coming over to our table, and with her shawl looking like a great yellow bird perched over us. “Would I be right in assuming that you two are on a date?”
Not wanting to embarrass myself, I decided to let Frank answer, and to my relief, he nodded.
“Wonderful,” said the barista. “A coffeehouse is the forge of connection, a perfect place for a date if I do say so myself. But it does require actual coffee, does it not?” she then said, looking pointedly at our table, empty of any mugs or beverages.
“Oh I’m sorry,” I said. “We should order.”
“No need to apologize! It’s just my personal belief that coffee is a certain kind of magic. A real-life love potion brewed just for each person. No two alike people, no two alike coffees. So there’s really nothing more intimate than knowing exactly how another person likes their coffee just so,” said the barista.
“Oh, I entirely agree,” I said, nodding my head.
“Do you?” she said with a big smile. “Then allow me to introduce myself! I’m Iris! Sugar Moon Coffeehouse has been in my family for generations, and if you’re willing to indulge me, I’d love to introduce you to one of our little traditions here. A test of your compatibility as it were, where you will each secretly order a drink for the other. If it is a perfect cup of coffee, then you just might be a perfect match!”
“And if it’s not?” said Frank.
“Well, you can make your own choices after that,” said Iris with a half laugh.
“It sounds like fun,” I said.
“You first then my dear,” she said, waving for me to follow her.
Going up to the bar, and having made Frank coffee every day all week, I was quite confident in my choices as I picked a no-nonsense dark roast with a hint of caramel for an americano. When I returned to my seat, Iris grabbed Frank by the arm before he could protest and led him away to do the same.
“What do you think of all this, Gabby?” he said when he returned.
“I guess we’ll have to see,” I said with a smile and a shrug and ignoring the fact that he had called me Gabby. But we were both awfully quiet as we waited for Iris to return.
“Enjoy, my dears!” she said as she handed us two large mugs.
“Oh, pumpkin spice?” I said with a sniff I looked at the mug in front of me.
“I figured most women like it this time of year,” said Frank, with a sheepish expression.
“It looks good, thanks,” I said as Iris retreated back to the counter. “Shall we then?”
There was nothing inherently wrong with the coffee. The beans weren’t burned, the texture was great, and I do like pumpkin spice as much as any other person. But Frank and I both set our drinks down only after a sip or two.
“How is it?” he said.
“It’s…well…it’s,” I began, trying to find the words.
“Just okay?” he eventually offered.
“Yeah, it’s just okay,” I said, finally admitting what I think I had known all along.
“Mine too,” he said, and I felt a rush of relief go through me. I think he must have felt the same because, after a moment, we both started laughing.
“Friends then?” I said, offering out my hand.
“Friends,” he said giving it a shake.
Whether the Sugar Moon Coffeehouse tradition is real or Iris was just trying to make a sale, we both chuckled about how strange the coffee tasted after that. As a radio enthusiast, he readily agreed to let me tell the story here on my podcast. We then exchanged numbers and waved goodbye. I rode home only feeling a little disappointed, which was cured by the package waiting for me on the porch, wrapped in a green string. It came with a note. Quote.
“I hope the new window is to your liking. I also have it on good authority that you like to make espressos.
Sincerely, Kasper Leake.”
I can smell the beans through the package now, and it smells so good. You know, I think I’m going use this and go make my own pumpkin spice latte now, just to my own liking, and then I’ll go look for some names carved onto trees.
Till next time listeners,
Be kind, learn your partner’s coffee order, and don’t forget to water your plants,
Hey there, it’s Bailey Loveless, writer and reader of Gabriela & The Inn Between. Thanks so much for joining me on this week’s episode. A special thank’s to Faerily Rowanwind for contributing the beautiful letter featured on this episode. Faerily is a collector and recorder of stories that need to be told. Sometimes it comes in the form of a letter or poems or actual stories or actual things. In her off time, she masquerades as one Chasity Anderson, a young woman who has a BFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Afterwards, through a series of serendipitous events, she became a Teacher of the Visually Impaired. She has been in her current occupation of a teacher for around ten years. If you needed to locate her, she lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and removes the mask at night. You can follow her on Instagram at @faerilyrowanwind. Thanks again, Faerily!
Now if you enjoyed the show, please consider supporting via Ko-Fi, link in the show notes below. It costs less than a latte at Sugar Moon Coffeehouse, and your contribution goes directly toward Gabriela’s student loans. More importantly, it keeps the show advertisement free. New episodes of Gabriela and the Inn Between release twice a month during the quarter moon phase with the next episode on September 17th. I look forward to seeing you there. In between time, keep warm and keep well. See you next time!