My two brothers and I developed a taste for single-malt scotch over a shared bottle of Highland Park– the stunning 1977 Bicentenary– so HP has a special place in our hearts. I think of that moment every time I drink this.
Clear Autumn morning. It’s just cool enough for my favorite girl to wear a light cashmere sweater, yet warm enough for her to wear a skirt. We’re in a cottage kitchen with my family. Outside the open window, oak branches shed their leaves, which twirl to the ground like scattered puzzle pieces, all red and brown and golden like the butter toffee we’re warming in our hands. Butter and burnt sugar; the smell fills the house. Pumpkin pie is in the oven, spiced rum with nutmeg and cinnamon in our mugs. The sun is out and the whole scene has that hazy glow all around, like a childhood memory. Outside, a beehive full of honey is hanging from the oak tree– my brother is smoking out the bees with leaves from the pile. Moments later, we’re chewing on the honeycomb while smoke from the smoldering leaves wafts into our kitchen. The bees migrate to pollinate the gardenias in our garden, which release their sweet perfume into the air. My golden retriever curls up on my toes; her paws smell like graham crackers.
I’ve got my girl in my arms. Her cheeks are soft and her smile warm. We’re eating toffee and walnuts, drinking spiced rum, and waiting for the pumpkin pie, now on the windowsill, to cool. But there’s no rush– we’re just settling into our favorite book. It’s bound in supple leather and even smells old, like a classic, like one I’ve read a hundred times but it still amazes me every time– my favorite kind.
Outside, the sky is blue and the leaves are on fire, even those that aren’t burning. They rustle as Ella and Duke croon a duet. My favorite girl is in my arms and her smile is warm.
This is the stuff dreams are made of.