We walked into the Weinhaus for our final dinner in Deutschland, moving through the tiny hallway into a wide berth of trencher tables and benches to be greeted by our usual array of polite waitstaff. Sitting down beneath the chalkboard menus, I felt something in the air – something foreign and homey at the same time – and did a double-take.

“Does that say Scottischer Haggis?

“Ja,” said the waiter, “Our chef is from Scotland, and is homesick.”

Nowhere else in the world, nowhere else in my life, do I expect to hear the words “Our chef is from Scotland.” I know I won’t have schnitzels again for a good long time but this is a chance too good to pass up. Dunkelweiss beer, a dram of Oban, haggis, neeps and tatties.

It was brilliant, absolutely great. The lads each gamely took a bite and admitted that it was much better than they expected, and that it was even vaguely palatable to them; but for me it was the best thing I ate in Germany, all smoke and peat and the iron tang of vital fluids.


Returning home was brilliant and has remained so. The most amusing thing so far is the fact that L and several of my other lady-friends seem to have lost several pounds apiece in the three weeks I’ve been gone, stricken with grief at my absence and bereft of my usual tender care and attention (or no longer constantly pushed into the decadent temptations of good food and booze, take your pick).

I’m on my second coffee at Dawn’s this morning, working to get some facetime in and enjoy the bright sunshine. It was Tartarus-grey throughout my travels, the twittering of electronic lemures silenced by wireless roaming charges and leaving me divorced and solitary in a disturbing way.

I didn’t realize how much I needed to touch other human beings until returning from the trip into the arms of my manifold friends, holding onto one another, back-slapping and shoulder-squeezing in a way I can’t duplicate among coworkers and relative strangers. Right now Rob and Janet are treating their boys to homecooked waffles and bacon, Missa and Dawn are hard at work on wedding cakes and Valentines, Leanne’s at her show, Dan and Sharon are working their way northward, I’ve a massage scheduled for this afternoon and the sun is burning bright in the cloudless cerulean sky.

In short, all is right beneath all the stars of the wide old world. There’s good work to be done ahead and all the time I need to do it.