Wednesday, 6.15 a.m.
Dark and cold. I pulled on a coat and went out for the paper, a habit I haven’t been able to break. I dragged the front gate open on its dead bolt and hoped the metallic screech it made as it crossed the concrete didn’t wake the neighbourhood.
I walked up the street and around the corner and across the road, and there it was. A giant ball of creamy yellow, low down near the horizon. It was the moon, setting. From where I was standing it was directly behind a giant eucalypt that must have been a hundred years old. It sat in the silhouetted tree like an overfed, fat white owl. Five minutes later, after I had fetched the paper, the yellow ball had climbed down the trunk and was slipping into the horizon, taking night with it.
The day passed in a haze. There was writing to be done. Something about a boring subject that I tried to make it sound interesting. Not quite succeeding. It’s hard to write about a boring subject without sounding like you’re trying to make a boring subject interesting.
Around lunch time there was a knock at the door. A courier. I opened the parcel, from my sister who lives in the hills of South Gippsland overlooking Wilson’s Promontory. Inside the parcel were colour copies of some new water colour illustrations for her next children’s book. They were good.
Recently I’ve had about as much work as an outback cellist; now it’s getting busy again. The room in which I write overlooks the back yard, where today William and Thomas Heavy Haulage and Earthmoving Inc. was at work as usual. They sounded like six Caterpillars bulldozing a hill. I tapped away for a while longer, writing a few useless words about index funds. Then I stopped. Index funds can wait. They do anyway.
Late afternoon. Time to cook.
This sounds ordinary on paper but is very good in the pot.
Peel and chop six medium carrots into thin rounds and cook them, along with a chopped onion and a scored clove of garlic, in 30g of butter over a medium-high heat for three minutes. Just to get it all going.
Then stir in two large peeled and diced potatoes, turn down the heat, and let it sweat for five minutes.
Now add four cups of chicken stock. (I had only vegetable stock (Massel cubes), so I used half a cube in two cups of boiling water and supplemented the stock with a strained cup of sauce left over from last night’s chicken provencale: chicken pieces stovetop-cooked in white wine, tomato puree, garlic, fat strips of red and green capsicum, olives, a sprig of thyme and lots of cracked black pepper. I made up the volume with another cup of boiling water. The leftover sauce gave the soup a more complex flavour with redolence of the capsicum and olives.)
Now bring the soup to boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Puree and serve, adding sour cream and a sprig of parsley to each bowl. Perfect late winter lunch. Or supper.
Ten to six. Dark now.
I saw it again. It must have just risen. It caught my eye as I passed the window in the room beyond the kitchen. There it was, fat and round and creamy yellow again, sitting in the east now; this time behind the thin bare bones of a wintering poplar. Laughing at me.
I stared at the full moon rising and wondered at the vastness of the distance it had travelled in between my seeing it twice on one day, and I felt a tinge of vertigo.