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The famous serenity of the inn is something you feel the minute you walk in. Less well known — partly because it makes little sense outside firsthand experience — is that the inn is also a book of sorts; each room, a three-dimensional page. Like writers before me, I’d been awarded a one-night stay here for a work-in-progress. Gratifying, yes, but it was a long time coming, and my plan was to write for a while then fall asleep in the legendary bed.
I was already immersed in my work when the housekeeper, an older woman in a plain black dress, dropped by. Irritation at the interruption dissipated as we sat down together and she began to speak of what could only be called the mysteries of existence — at times weaving into her account examples of how my writing and life fit the larger picture. For once nothing stood in the way. Arjuna and the charioteer minus the divine display. By the time she left it was late and I was extraordinarily tired. And only after settling under the wonderfully soft bedcover did I suspect the tutelage was part of the prize. Next thing I knew, I woke in my own bed. Worse, my memories of the dream omitted every word the housekeeper said.
The following night, still preoccupied by the lost instructions, I noted, at the edge of sleep, long lines of print too small to read. These changed into stacks of gold-colored lumber, which in turn built themselves into a house-like structure with an outsized boat alongside it. A distinctive configuration that, on waking, recalled the art of Paul Klee.
Later that day, with only the oneiric impression to go by, I found a Klee watercolor with the above-described configuration. It also contained, strangely enough, elements of the original dream. The fanciful edifice in the painting, for instance, resembled the inn I’d stayed in — down to having the look of a half-open book. A sleeping guest stood, eyes closed, at a second story window — dreaming, or so it seemed, the world before our eyes. On the deck of the ark-like boat in the golden field below her, a sailor jumped for joy. This was the Miraculous Landing the painting was named for. At home by now on the ontological limb I’d gone out on, I regarded the landing of the ark — together with the next-to-impossible odysseys, tiny to immense, such landings imply — as a sort of pictorial addendum to what the housekeeper told me, and entitled my work-in-progress “Miraculous Landing.”
I’d add that that the award no longer has the shimmering status it once did. Some say its basic premise is outdated; others blame the inn’s geographical isolation. Or — you’ll hear the housekeeper depicted as a lonely local with meager metaphysical credentials. Likewise, the fortuitous effects that a sojourn at the inn are said to have on one’s writing and life are extolled or discounted, depending on who you talk to about it.