It was a beautiful moonlit night as we made our way through the woods to the Solitude Yurt. The snow was shining bright under clear skies and our little group of close friends and colleagues laughed and jostled playfully as we tromped through the snow and anticipated the evening ahead.
By definition, a dinner in Solitude’s Yurt is a special occasion. The one-seating per night meal is the perfect culmination to any ski trip. It’s an evening of gorgeous food and drink served around big communal tables lit by gas lanterns. The first course that evening was a celery roots soup with crispy sage and Marcona almonds. The lovely plates went on from there until we reached the poached and seared halibut with a citrus béarnaise. Inside this space you feel so far away from everything and that distance from the world brings you close to everyone in the room. Indeed, Solitude’s Yurt is a special spot for me, I have enjoyed so many wonderful warm lantern-lit evenings in its warm confines that I can’t even count them all but this most recent night was, as it turned out, more special than all the rest.
See, I recently lost a very dear friend, a mentor and colleague. It was one of those deaths that you don’t see coming. It was unexpected, shocking and so very sad. This night in the yurt would turn out to be the last meal I would share with him. So, as I recollect on that night I am so very grateful for that well-used Mongolian tent in the woods above Solitude Village. What better place to share a final evening with a good friend? After tromping through the snow, we were seated and greeted with warm beverages. Beautiful food was placed before us in seemingly endless variety and quantity. My friend and I made fun of the pomp, we shared bawdy jokes across the table and, well, were just there together amid a larger group of people we all knew well and loved.
Afterwards, I remember tromping down the snowy cat track next to him, quiet after the din of dinner looking at the lights of the village below, “How’re you doing old man?” I asked. “Good enough for now. Jeremy, good enough for now,” he answered.
I find myself remembering that moment often and holding it close and reflecting upon how important it is to make time for those “special occasions.” In fact, they shouldn’t be so special. They should be where we put all our energy because we never know what will come next. What’s that silly cliché? Light the candles, use the good towels, put out the china, etc. Well you should probably put a dinner in the yurt on that list. You never can know how special one night can truly be.