We are having long and heated discussions about New Year’s Eve a nd New Year’s Day, the meals, the guests, the preparations — such fun. Our neighbours join in with wacky notions of soaking the gammon in cider and playing Scottish reels.
It is very very hot and we have icy watermelon slices for breakfast along with freshly squeezed naartjie (clementine) juice.
We might do the gammon in filtered sweet mountain water with star anise and bay leaves and cloves. That is my option. But then there is the question of a honied glaze, the surface studded with cloves and sweetness, perhaps plum compote. And whether to eat the gammon cold or not.
And the right kind of potato salad with homemade mayonnnaise and dill. Baby beetroot roasted with balsmic vinegar and black pepper. Fanned out creamy green avocado slices and a salsa. A green salad with spring onions and cucumber. Jugs of lemonade and ginger beer and orange juice, icy and fresh.
Midnight supper al fresco under the wild stars. Guarded by tiny puppies doing battle with lizards and field mice. Iced tea and mint juleps with lime frappes, with champagne for those who want it. Raspberries and meringue with whipped cream, creme brulees, chilled, pistachio ice creams.
It all sounds madly extravagant and hedonistic. Letting the old year slip away and greeting the new promises and schemes for 2009. We check weather reports ( there are thunderclouds looming and so we make kitchen table plans with lit candles and fans). How many trestle tables might be necessary? Who else should be invited?
We will all share the costs and everything will be home-cooked and not bought. Friends will arrive with armfuls of sunflowers and stargazer lilies, there will be bowls of ripe tomatoes and dripping fresh mozzarella, we will time the sharing of ovens for roast vegetables topped with olives and red peppers. There is much squabbling over party music, and the pups will be kept away from the dancing in case they get trampled underfoot. The lttle dogs are in a whirl of passionate sociability.
Living sober is like throwing yourself into a deep river full of under-currents and upheavals and glittering foam. Coming up for air and breasting the turbualence, diving for the fun of it, taking all those fabulous scary risks with eyes wide open.