February 25, 2001
Laurie was returning from Virginia and coming home from the airport we decided that neither of us wanted to cook. This was a task best left to the hands of professionals, and we chose the Hilltop.
The Hilltop is a part of a compound just outside the Village, just past the tasteful aura of the Mirbeau Inn & Spa and Rosalie’s Cucina. I am sure that some people would like to see the eastern boundary of Auburn stretched out to embrace the Hilltop, but that’s not likely to happen. The Hilltop, along with its companions, the Cedar House Bowling Lanes and Lakeside Video, belongs to Skaneateles and helps to balance the many visible manifestations of wealth.
I always make three stops there. First, of course, is the table to place my order — usually a half of mac & cheese to be accompanied by the Sampler, a platter of deep-fried chicken fingers, cheese sticks and onion rings. But on this evening I felt the need for breakfast, and so requested the 2+2+2 — 2 eggs, 2 pancakes and 2 strips of bacon, plus a side order of sausage. Sort of a 2+2+2+2. My second stop is the bar of the Cedar House, which can be accessed through a short corridor. There I asked what kind of bourbon they had that evening. “Whoa,” said the barmaid, like I’d thrown her a curve ball. But this was an open book test and she recovered quickly, reading aloud from the labels. Jim Beam, no. Old Grandad, yes.
I soaked up the atmosphere for a few moments, the smoke, the crashing of the pins, the loud chatter. And then I returned to the Hilltop with my drink, took a sip and went to Stop Three, the Alzheimer’s Book Shelf, where any volume is yours for 50 cents. This is the best deal in Skaneateles. I stuffed $2 into the plastic jug and returned to the table with a mystery for Laurie, and for myself the Viking Portable Mark Twain, Andre Gide’s The Counterfeiters and Robertson Davies A Mixture of Frailties which begins, “It was appropriate that Mrs. Bridgetower’s funeral fell on a Thursday, for that had always been her At Home day.”
Breakfast arrived moments later. This was Village living at its best: eggs, pork, bourbon, good books and my honey, home from her travels.