In the midnight silence, the soft flutter of a million calendar pages turning could almost be heard, like the rapidly-beating wings of an otherwise-silent lethal nocturnal bird swooping on some small brown rodent; or else the sound effect used over that clichéd sequence in black-and-white sci-fi movies in which freshly-printed newspapers flap off the presses to reveal a shocking headline such as Martians Invade.
Sorry. Just practising for the Bulwer-Lytton awards. I could have just said: Suddenly, it was February.
And so quiet. The summer holiday is over, Tracy is back at work two days a week, and today William returned to kindergarten. There were tears: Thomas wanted to stay at the kindergarten. Three-year-old kindergarten is tomorrow. Today is for four-year-olds.
And here we were in the echoing house, just Thomas and me and a thousand things to do. But which first? Deadhead the second flush of summer roses. Empty the compost bin. Flatten out seventeen cardboard boxes to be recycled. Wash last night’s dishes and the breakfast ones on top of them. Hang out the washing (clothes dryer? are you kidding?). Evade the eye in the corner, where two large jobs of writing wait in the hard drive; evil ghosts in the machine that haunt my days and my nights. Deadlines approach! That explains my fascination with the passage of days at the top of this story. What kind of worker has no deadline? What about the man in the whiskey ads who has to sample the whiskey after it drips slowly through the maple charcoal? Does he have a deadline? I'll bet he doesn't. No wonder he never looks stressed.
It was ten o'clock and I couldn’t decide what not to do, so the hell with it. We went out for coffee in Sydney Road and the papers instead, and watched the old Greek and Italian men making hand gestures outside the library, and busy young mothers pushing three-wheel prams while talking on cell phones, and black-suited real estate agents with red ties sitting around too-small outdoor tables drinking coffee and figuring out how much of $1.2 million is 2 per cent and smiling at the answer because they were $12,000 closer to a new black BMW. I had my usual strong latte and Tom had an escargot, one of those French pastries with sultanas and custard rolled up inside them. Then we went and picked up William from kindergarten. That was today.
Yesterday, it was an old-fashioned storm they way they used to be. It rolled in late on an unsuspecting summer afternoon that was hot and still and it cracked directly overhead and the air was electric, and the thunder turned later to hissing rain. I went for a long walk about six o’clock along murmuring Merri Creek and there were just a few runners and dogs and no-one else, but when it rains is one of the best times to walk along the trail. The sky was still thunder-grey until a hole opened up in the clouds, over west, and the world turned luminous like a medieval religious painting, with visible rays of gold. Then the rain came again and I leaned into it and walked around the lake and home. The house was still hot.
Warm salad with sesame and wasabi.
I made a late dinner when the evening was cooler and the rain had eased and the boys had retired for the night. I steamed two bunches of broccolini (the long, thin stems with smaller florets), two dozen fresh green beans, and two bunches of asparagus. Then I lighly fried a bunch of spring onions (sliced on the diagonal in two-inch sections) in a little peanut oil flavoured with a drop of sesame oil, and threw in a tablespoon of sesame seeds at the end. I drained the steamed vegetables, set them on iceberg lettuce leaves spread on a platter and tipped the fried spring onion and sesame seed mixture over the top. Serve with steamed rice and a small dish of tamari with a dash of wasabi, for dipping. Cold beer, anyone?