Please come in and make yourself at home. I’m so sorry that I missed your arrival. There’s beer in the fridge, and some good cheese and bread in the pantry. There’s wood stacked up in the fireplace, and some matches on the mantle. Please excuse the dust and the cobwebs, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to clean as thoroughly as I would like. This often surprises people. I think, when they first arrive, they expect some place a little cleaner.
Let me say how glad I am that you’ve managed to arrive after such a long journey. I know it hasn’t been easy for you at times. The weather where you’ve come from has been bitterly cold, I hear. I imagine there have been times out on that lonely road, in the pitch dark, when the icy rain has been coming down so hard you could hardly open your eyes. I imagine you had a difficult time believing I even existed. If only I could have been there to hold your hand, to wrap my wool coat around your shoulders, and whisper words of encouragement in your ear. But these things are so difficult to explain.
I can almost picture you now, standing there dripping freezing water onto the floor. You should light the fire and change into something warm before you catch your death.
Oh, dear. I probably shouldn’t have said that, should I? Being tremendously old and having such a ridiculously important title doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t put my foot in my mouth on a regular basis, as you will find out.
I suggest, after you’ve had a chance to rest up a bit and have had a bite to eat, a walk outside would do your soul a world of good. You can hear the birds singing out there and the distant roaring of the ocean. I don’t know if you’ll remember, but it’s the same countryside as the one you grew up in. Do you remember the sycamores? The woodpeckers? Just over the hill to the south are the sand dunes where you kissed Janie McDougall for the first time.
If you feel up to it, you might even take a walk into town. Your daughter is waiting for you at the outside cafe, the one with the hanging baskets and the sundial outside. Your wife will be somewhat delayed, though.
But there will be time enough to discuss all of this. Time enough for all the mysteries and the riddles. For now, lay your head back. For now, close your eyes. For now, listen to the breathing of the night wind and rest.