DEEP CREEK LAKE, Maryland — Boccaccio’s classic “The Decameron” — 10 days of tales — imagines a band of well-off young men and women fleeing the early 14th century bubonic plague then ravaging Florence. They escape to the hilltop village of Fiesole.
Needing entertainment, they challenge each other to a contest of story telling. A great device for a Renaissance author to uncork his imagination and distill the forerunners of what came to be known as the short story.
The seven women and three men each spin 10 tales, making a book of 100 stories of lust, greed and heroic virtue.
Today we find ourselves beset by the coronavirus plague of 2020. In need of respite we might likewise want to “flee the pandemic” and seek out a charming and safe refuge. To idle the time we, too, could try writing stories of our own.
I can recommend just the place: A 19th century farmhouse converted in 1995 into a warm and welcoming inn. The place is set on two idyllic acres on the shores of Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland’s Garrett County — less than one hour east of Morgantown.
Garrett County has thus far recorded just eight cases of the virus and zero deaths. Hewing to a statewide order of Gov. Larry Hogan, almost all shoppers at the local Walmart and other retail outlets such as pharmacies and ice cream parlors dutifully wore masks during our visit. Restaurants were open only for curbside pickups.
At the Lake Pointe Inn itself, sanitizing sprays sat on shelves and tables at every turn. And signs encouraged guests to observe social distancing.
The inn’s 12 rooms are beautifully appointed and equipped with all the amenities an aficionado of gracious boutique lodgings might desire.
Hot breakfasts (with attractive options) are included in the seasonally variable rates, starting at $200 a night double occupancy. Complimentary coffee and tea are available at all hours. Canoes and kayaks are also provided to guests at no additional charge.
Paula and I came here for our 25th wedding anniversary in lieu of our original plan to “do New York.” Given the virus’ devastation of the Big Apple, kicking back to Deep Creek Lake was the right choice.
We already knew Deep Creek Lake, but not yet the inn, with its wraparound porch looking down upon the water. The porch holds more than enough wicker chairs and rockers to accommodate all guests. A two-tiered bricked patio adds more seating on wooden recliners and metal chairs.
Indoors, the wood-paneled gathering room affords lake views from windows on two sides, with an ample supply of heavily padded armchairs. R&B music and crooner classics, kept low, fill the room, commercial-free. And upon request the innkeeper, Scott Lack, will set a blaze in the old stone fireplace.
As to the story telling? Well, that part is actually on the horizon. Former restaurant entrepreneur Lack and his wife, Lenina Close, were enchanted hearing about my decades of coaching autobiographies. They loved the idea of hosting Life Writing Weekends at Lake Pointe Inn. I love that prospect as well. The setting is ideal for coaxing creativity.
Taking a page from Boccaccio, I believe we can make it happen.