There is a large tree down by the river KamoGawa (DuckRiver) that cuts Kyoto in two. Every night all the little white cranes that live in the river roost in this tree. Six weeks ago they were hidden in leafy green but while I’ve been here the leaves have turned russet and fallen and now at night their white bodies are stark against the bare limbs of the tree. Every day I walk and run by the edge of the river. The water is clear and startlingly clean, given that it runs through a city. Big fish can be seen swimming lazily against the current, and each day I watch the Sagi – grey cranes, bigger than the white ones, that remind me of old men, they have breast feathers like long beards – fish for little silver morsels in the rapids. His beak pierces the water and every time he lifts his head it is to drop the shining fish down his gullet.
It is getting awfully cold here, it will snow on the weekend, but by that time I will be home to a sweltering Melbourne. While I’ve been here Sarah has been home, drinking iced eggnog and working hard. Lauren and her put together all the calendars, an extensive endeavor, helped with a little icy, nutmeg, boozy eggnog.
Today is my last day in Kyoto. Yesterday evening when I was heading back to my apartment, along the river, the sky had turned quickly from sunset to night and I watched all the white cranes fly in to roost. They came from all parts of the river, but they flew to the tree together and alighted as a flock. Tomorrow I fly home.
It’s been a big year, I finished writing my book! You can see the book cover here and I’m super excited to launch it in April. (Published by Text, distro by Penguin)
There are still a couple of calendars left if you want to give yourself a new years present.
Sarah and I will be having a small hiatus over the holidays, we will be back late January, hopefully covered in sand and salt from beach adventures. See you next year and thanks for everything. Love from Sarah, Romy and Lauren.
4 cups of milk (we have been known to use the organic reduced fat milk so it isn’t too rich!)
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cinnamon quill
12 free-range egg yolks
1 ½ cups of raw caster sugar
brandy (amount as desired, a glug, a cup, or even two)
250ml pure cream
nutmeg, freshly grated
In a saucepan, combine the cinnamon, milk, vanilla and heat on a very low temperature until almost at boiling point (but don’t boil!).
In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until fluffy. Transfer the hot milk into a jug you can pour easily from and steadying the bowl with one hand, sometimes it helps to sit the bowl on a teatowel, slowly pour the milk into the yolk mixture whisking continually.
Wash your saucepan and pour the mixture back into it, place back on the heat, and cook over a low to moderate heat until thickened. Again, don’t let the mixture boil.
Remove the cinnamon quill and let cool.
Stir in Brandy (or rum if you prefer) and cream.
Refrigerate overnight before serving and serve on ice (if you are in the hot summer like we are) with a generous grating of fresh nutmeg.