Friday, August 14, 2009

Farewell Dinners

The past week and a half, I've found myself sitting down to more farewell dinners then I care to count. It seems that food and farewells go hand in hand on the Island - you can't escape without getting 'stuffed' from the well-intentions of your hosts, especially if they are family. Sometimes I swear they try to feed you as if you won't eat again until you return to PEI at Christmas. Such is life on PEI. It doesn't matter if you live here or are visiting, summer on PEI is certain to be full of 'welcome home' barbecues, bonfires and bevies on a patio throughout June and July.

Inevitably, then, as August settles in and the nights fall upon us earlier, the goodbye dinners start to roll in. They may not be christened as such though, because as we sit down to these final suppers we are all wishing the same thing: that time will stand still, that these last tastes of summer on the Island will stretch, stretch, stretch like a marmalade cat that's been napping all day in the shade of an oak tree. No one wants to look at the clock.

And that is how I found myself night after night over this past week and a half. Sometimes I was saying goodbye to friends that were leaving before me, other times I was saying goodbye to friends I didn't think I'd see again before I left. Always we'd find ourselves around a table, drinking and eating, laughing and chatting about times gone by and times to come. Then there were the goodbyes to family members that had dropped in for a weekend visit from the mainland. Saturday night, after a feast that was officially dubbed my birthday meal, I gave my sister a big hug and poked her belly - next time I see her, she'll be a mother. Life will change forever for her and Rowan.

The Dunes, an eclectic and gorgeous restaurant/gallery with spectacular gardens in Brackely Beach, played host to two memorable dinners with people I didn’t want to say goodbye to. So we didn’t say goodbye, at least not over dinner. Instead we savored divine seafood, reminisced about the past and planned future adventures together (one of which involves a chocolate cake being delivered to me and Devin at the end of our half marathon race in October). It’s almost as though the food and wine are meant to cushion the whole ordeal, make it less painful. Well, in one of two cases it did the trick. In the other case, I think overindulgence in the ‘cushioning effect’ of food and wine had the opposite effect, causing real, physical pain by way of stomachaches.

And now my farewell dinners are over. I am back in Kingston, trying to make my way through a slew of ‘welcome back’ dinners. The cycle begins again. For the past six years my life has been marked by farewell and welcome back dinners – it’s almost as if my travels to and fro are the courses of an elaborate dinner that will never end. And I’m OK with that, but some time, sooner rather than later, I’d like find a bit permanence, whittle down the number of times I have to say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to those that I care about. It’s getting harder with every season that passes.

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