23 December, 2009

A house in the mist.

At fourteen or fifteen, unable to sleep at two in the morning, I crept into the family den (lined with genuine laminated wood) and switched on the television, promptly losing myself in the 1954 film adaptation of the Broadway musical Brigadoon.
For a couple of days now, I have been Cyd Charisse, in spirit if nothing else. Okay, I'm speaking fairly loosely here. Gene Kelly was AWOL, there was only this house instead of a musically gifted village, and not a kilt to be found, but it hardly seemed possible for the day to go by any slower, nor fog to be any denser. The fog was palpable, it was the cat that padded up and wrapped itself around the farmhouse (remember that poem?). Only this cat never left.
Nearly simultaneously, there have been hundreds of passengers stuck on a Eurostar train under the English Channel and thousands of stranded would-be passengers in London and Paris, almost all of whom deeply desired to go home for the holidays. I was also stuck--but already at home. Granted, there are worse things (such as the aforementioned train mess) but this house has been completely cut off from anything resembling civilization, or even the landscape familiar to me, with no visibility past one or two meters.

The only weapon I chose to wield against the resulting (mild) case of cabin fever was to read about food. Then to cook. A lot. There are now four types of Christmas cookies (including a new one: lemon-glazed persimmon bars); my go-to rosemary and garlic marinade for a leg of lamb; candied clementines, incandescent and nearly translucent; the best-ever crèmes renversées (what the world outside of France calls a crème caramel); an ivory-hued cream of parsnip soup; a winter salad sprinkled generously with crumbled chestnuts and my neighbor's very fresh goat cheese. My waistline will bear the brunt of this isolation, but boy the house smells divine. No doubt Cyd would shake her perfectly coiffed, chiseled head at the sight of my kitchen...

I do hope we'll get lucky with a bit of milder weather tomorrow, as I really must rejoin civilization in last-minute gift-hunting at the local marchés de noel . It is, after all, nearly Christmas. Dear reader, I wish you and yours warm fingers and toes, a kitchen full of good smells (and someone to help clean up), a big glass with tiny bubbles, and an enduring sense of peace. Oh, and not too much fog.

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