Friday, July 14, 2006

Amy's Dinner and then the Long Way Home

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Twelve days seemed like a long time, but each day tumbled over the other and the next until it was The Last Night. Amy had said almost from the beginning that she wanted to treat us to a nice lunch and somehow that got shuffled or overlooked until the dinner before her flight. We had come to Inverness, the regional capital of the highlands and closest thing to a big city for many miles in any direction. We are here because we have to put Amy on the airplane tomorrow morning and because we need to put Morris's car in for repairs. Amy has woven easily into the pattern of the days and it will be different without her.

The manager at the Volvo garage recommended Cafe One for dinner and called the owner to make a reservation and ask that he especially look after us. From the moment we walked in the door, the owner and all his staff worked attentively and good spiritedly to ensure a good meal and a good celebration.

Amy picked a red wine after we all three decided on steaks. Over the wine, she looked at me and wondered out loud how many glasses of red wine we have shared over the years. The recollection of red wine conversations set the tone for good talking and laughing. The venison appetizer provided Amy's first taste of venison, thus adding a sense of adventure to the red-wine nostalgia and the conversation.

The steak was amazingly good. I startled my former vegetarian self by saying to the owner, "We take good care of our cattle and I am glad to see you do, too." He smiled and talked about how he works to source food locally. "Amy's Dinner" as I dubbed it was already taking on epic standing and then we ordered dessert. Over chocolate fondant with ice cream and coffee with liqueur, I realized that no less memorable a meal would have measured up to Amy's 12 days in the highlands. In those 12 days, she had seen a calf born and named for her, crouched through a narrow entrance into a neolithic cavern, walked around a standing stone circle with only me and birds for company, walked the middle road between cattle and barley and the Pentland Firth, scrabbled along rock ledges into the firth with the tide coming in to discover the secret life of limpets and luminescent green algae, and hobnobed with everyday Scots in a part of the world nearly invisible to the rest of the world.

The afterglow of the meal lasted almost until Amy boarded the plane for the first leg of her journey back to the States. The day was beautiful with clear skies and warm sun. Morris was trying to take my mind off the empty spot where Amy had been by suggesting a run through the countryside. Morris knows the side roads and back roads and the stories they hold better than just about anyone else and I enjoy hearing them, so I tried to put thoughts of Amy out of my mind and we started on the long way home as she too was wending the long back to her home.

When we got to a single track road I remembered with a start that we had not taken a photo of one, so we set out to get a good single-track road photo and thus keep Amy connected here despite the long road home.


At 3:04 PM, Anonymous Amy Perry said...

Well, I do feel still connected, even though I don't have the photo yet. As I have been telling people, this was the best vacation I've ever had. You are right--the dinner was absolutely wonderful.

At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Amy Perry said...

Oops, I just realized the photo is the one in your article! Thank you. It is a very good photo of a passing place.

At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Amitabha said...

Amy was telling us about her wonderful vacation.
The blog is really well written.
I can relate to some of your columns, I am preparing to go back to India after a long 7 years in US...
Amit ( Amitabha Bhaumik, used to sit across the aisle at Lilly)


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