We had a sleepover for four good friends here last night. One couple went to the old part of the house (The Lodge) and one to the room we jokingly call The Aloha Suite upstairs. These are the kind of folks that make me rethink my hermit identification. What a great time.
One of the couples takes small groups on camera safaris in Africa — have been doing this for many years. About 30 years ago, in Nairobi, Kenya, they and their two young children were the only survivors within a certain radius of a bomb blast in the dining room of their hotel. It was New Year’s Eve. Both still bear the scars of many plastic surgeries. They returned to the same hotel again the next New Year’s Eve, and were greeted with flowers and hugs.
The photos from their most recent trip were amazing. Their love for Africa is palpable. At age 70, they show no diminution of this great passion.
Both couples are world travelers and have dined in fine restaurants in virtually every venue imaginable. Mary Beth’s Kitchen at the Longleaf Bar and Grill was perhaps no less exotic with bowls of peppery greens, onion and garlic studded smoky collards, and surprisingly smooth young turnip greens, both pulled from the ground yesterday morning. Buttery squash casserole was adult comfort food at its best. A big platter of sweet potatoes in their homely jackets spit out fragrant steam when lanced with a knife. A bit player in this veggie feast was thick sliced fork tender ginger garlic pork tenderloin.
One set of friends brought festive red mylar wrapped bottles of champagne for the beginning. The others brought a South African cabernet for the table and an amazing South African liqueur to go with the after-dinner coffee and talk. This liqueur tasted like creamy flowers.
Late to bed, late to rise, then we reconvened for coffee, pumpkin raisin muffins and more good talk.
Shortly before sunset, I plan to take camera and binoculars for an October 1 post on the many seasonal changes during the past 30 days in this small patch of Florida panhandle pine woods.