Or something like that. The sun had left the building earlier and the cool air stole in so we sat closer to the brick wall that was still warm. I moved the old cast-iron barbecue closer to the table so that it provided a second front of warmth. I spread out the glowing coals over the iron and put the grate back on and got the steaks ready to grill.
Apart from the coolness in the air at night, these golden autumn days are perfect and warm and they slide by slowly. February is always a busy month for no reason that I can think of, and its ferocious weather makes it a monster; so that tamed, softer March is always a great change. But we keep sitting outside in the evenings as if summer were still with us and we pretend it will never go. Before we know it we will be sitting inside in front of the gas heater again with nothing on the television and a shelf full of books to be read through winter, which we hope will be short and mild, and with rain. That’s not too much to ask, is it? I remember frost every morning in the winters of childhood, but Melbourne had a third of its current population then and my suburb was like living in the country and we walked to school and home again, where now the streets are paved with black four-wheel-drives.
I digress, wildly. The fire was ready and issuing a nice warm glow and I had one fine very large T-bone (upper case because that’s the shape of the bone, not ‘t’) at room temperature, here meaning almost warm, and I placed it carefully on the grate and turned it after two minutes and left it for three. Then I removed it and cut away the eye fillet and returned that to the grate and put the rest of the T-bone on my plate. I turned the eye after three minutes and left it there for another three so that it was perfectly well-done for Tracy and I had the rare T-bone. Thin slices of butter laced with garlic, ground coriander and ground pepper sat on top, and on the side we had small whole potatoes dressed in butter and spring onions and nothing else at all except a pinch of salt. About as simple as it could be but satisfying. The grilled and layered vegetables and the fish in foil with soy and ginger and the stuffed chicken and the vast platters of antipasto and all the other fanciful early summer tricks are gone now, and at this end of the season an excellent steak straight off the barbecue and on to the plate is faster and realistic and practical and good.
Buzz! The other thing about this end of the season is bugs. Billions of them. Long green ones and short zappy ones and strange buzzing ones and flies. March flies and vinegar flies and horse flies and blue bottles and blow flies and dung flies. I think I made half of those up. Of course, you have to have the outside light on at this time of the year now, and the light attracts them. Has anyone invented a light that repels bugs? The wasps have joined us also. You can put up with most of these except when they get in your drink, and then you say to hell with it and go inside.