On our last evening at Squirrel Cove, we watched the storm wash the sky away. Lightning crimped the edge of clouds and a peppery wind was whipping up whitecaps close to shore. The piano broke into a waltz, the sound merry and ragged, too loud on the counterpoint where the chords needed to be tuned. It made us laugh. We slurped on the lemon-and-butter soaked oysters and sipped on bubbly prosecco. We didn’t know then this would be the last time we were to dine on protein caught out of the inlet that fingered its way alongside the verandah, through cedar-green thimbles of islets threading the seam where water was meeting the sky. The horse piano changed to a languid moonlight sonata and we pulled out the barbecued lingcod and rockfish off the grill, setting it next to trays of potatoes, beets and tubers sweating in tinfoil. The Merlot splashed a deep purple in the wide glass bowl and we made room for the post-dinner board game and chocolate covered raisins and almonds.
How do you say good-bye to a place that makes up the best part of your memories? Or do you just let it languish in your soul, seeping through at times unexpected, recalled with the turning of the leaves and the whisper of wind on water? Perhaps you just go back swept along the tides of a novel, accompanied by characters at once imaginary and credibly real, like the spirited Margaret Schlegel in E.M. Forster’s Howards End, who is bequeathed a place full of memories by a dying friend. Yet the friend’s family, incredulous at the prospect of losing valuable property that they own by right, contrive to do away with evidence of this bequest. What unfolds is an exquisite contest between traditional and liberal values, practicality and idealism, the rights of the individual vs those of a group, the strained tensions between social classes in Edwardian England and the first attempts to bridge the divide through love, honour, respect and friendship.