December 19, 2005

E is for Summer

Cabin fever set in this winter week as gloomy Gascony returned. That thick grey sky fills the valley floor and keeps me inside- my floating shoebox of a captain's cabin. Yet these dark months are often brightened by the fire and fetes, indulgent morning reading sessions, the absolute quiet of no traffic on the closed canal. Visitors are non-verbal: a solitary moor hen, a fluster of blue tits devouring seed balls, two-hundred sheep scarring eight hundred cloven hoof prints into the muddy towpath.

Summer is half a year away or just gone to the other side of the world. On this crisp winter day, I remember that summer and spend the afternoon raking the gravel terrace and paths, pricking off the last lemon verveine, salvaging some fresh mint, pruning the bay tree for some holiday wreaths. There are still buds on the roses--frozen rose buds edged in frost beads.

The artichoke plants are the sole survivors in the potager. Blackened tomato vines beg to be cleaned up, but I walk to the piggery pantry and take a jar of tomatoes from the shelf. Two spoons of duck fat in the pan, two shallots chopped roughly, a couple garlic cloves smashed; joint the chicken, brown in the fat, add the bay leaves, salt and pepper and pour the bright red tomatoes over everything. Bang the lid on, start a fire, pour a glass of wine. Put on a cd of the Walter Harpman Blues Band playing. Eh voila- a French winter dinner.

I started this blog in the summer when artist/techie friend Elaine Tin Nyo came to help cook the 6-legged lamb at the solstice fete. Now, I am remembering that summer. E is for été.

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