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Summer dreaming

December 14, 2009

It is a dull early winter’s day. There is none of the crisp and sparkle which I love about the winter, but nor is there any howl of wind and lash of precipitation against the windows. Not today. Today is a monochrome grey day; the air is still and frigid, and flat, listless light creeps through the french windows and paints the kitchen a drab steel grey. I am taking the last solace of the winter cook: retreating into daydreams of summer’s warmth and alfresco eating.

French bread, a migratingly soft brie, poppingly ripe cherry tomatoes and a bottle of red: this must be the finest summer’s lunch? Of course, as with any food, the setting must be right: a searing midsummer sun filtering through the feathery fronds of poplar trees, casting a dappled light onto the dry grass which lines the lazy water of a typically French river. Pure noon time bliss.

If I close my eyes very tight, I can just about imagine my ideal summers evening. Perhaps I have been climbing, or sailing, or just had a relaxed day by the seaside. My skin smarts slightly from the sun’s heat and now, as it slips towards the horizon, I feel I am glowing. Beside me, but not too close, is a small crackling fire, nestled in pebbles on the beach. As the driftwood burns, it gives off a gentle aroma: of the sea, of the waves, of the forests hundreds of miles away from whence it drifted – a resinous, dry salt smokiness. As the fire burns down, a griddle is placed over it and mackerel, so fresh they are board stiff, grill over the hot coals and pebbles. Someone pops open a bottle of crisp, cold white. I melt small knobs of butter over the mackerel, and we all pick the flesh from the bones,  eating it with peppery salad leaves and mopping up the juices with fresh bread. Sated, we lie back on the still warm beach and let the sounds of the sea wash over us like a rising tide.

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