I like to wash the dishes late at night after everyone has gone to bed. Occasionally I hear a gruffle in the darkness outside my kitchen window. And when later I fall asleep, I dream of possums chasing each other up and down Jacaranda trees. In the morning, as the kettle whistles, I admire the shiny clean sculpture on the dish rack.
I like to write at dusk with the Currawongs gathered in choirs along the branches of my neighbour’s scribbly gum. Their curlicue calls symphony with the chatter of parrots on the wires, while below them the local cats wait for dinner. Surrounded by night approaching, the sky and the birds are squawking, and fading pink. That’s when, with a glass of red wine beside me and the day behind me, the vegetables peeled and the roast in the oven, time is corralled; and ideas appear on the page, landing softly with invisible paws.
And I like to take my daily walk at noon. In these first days of November I circle the meditative loop of Centennial Park under the midday sun and time and place melt away as the heat begins to strike.
I’m prepared. I’ve smeared my arms and legs with sun block. I’ve turned up my collar and pulled on my hat. I am determined to enjoy this slow sauna while I think about what to make for dinner. But it’s hotter than I expected, and by the time I reach the first bubbler at the quarter mile, I feel like the chicken that I’ve been imagining roasting in the oven.
I’ve been basted with olive oil, an aroma of rosemary and garlic emanates from my pores, and my white socks remind me of those frilly little paper chef hats that my mother used to put on the chicken legs to cover their knobby knees.
After forty minutes on the rotisserie I collapse in the shade of a Moreton Bay Fig. I rest for about twenty minutes or until my skin loses its pink hue. It’s important at this stage not to hurry. I meditate on the lost art of patience.
This I’ve found is the most difficult part of any roast: waiting while the meat rests. It’s so tempting to carve it then and there, and wolf it down over the sink. But although there is delight in raw abandon I prefer the sustaining pleasure of savouring time.
You take the chicken out of the oven, place it on a rack and cover it with foil. That’s when you make the gravy from those precious brown juices that have gathered at the bottom of the roasting pan. And by the time you set the table and refill that glass of wine you’ve no doubt been drinking, the bird is ready to be pulled apart, hopefully in the company of friends; it’s soft, tender flesh literally falling off the bone.