The Mast-Head: Plenty of Time Now

    This is the time of year when many of us who live around here can actually get things done. Just why summer and early fall seem so jam-packed that little things like paying bills, keeping up with repairs around the house, and socializing with friends become so difficult is hard to say. But when the clocks change and the days get dark before 5 p.m., once again we find a chance for dealing with it all. It is a paradox that the shorter the days, the more time we seem to have for what needs to be done.
    This week, for example, my friend Jameson Ellis and I managed to get together for a quick dinner out, my treat, something I had been promising since June. We ended up at Sen in Sag Harbor, eating matched bowls of fish and rice, talking about this and that.
    Just recently, I also got around to putting up some interior window casing that a contractor had inexplicably left undone a year ago. And I placed an order for some copper weather-stripping to seal up some leaky doors, which had been bothering me for nearly as long.
    At dinner, Jameson and I talked about not having enough time and just why it was that the frantic energy of the summer season seemed to sap one’s ability to accomplish goals. We came to no diagnosis, though we agreed on the symptoms.
    One of the positives of this time of year is that I have both time and the interest in getting back into the kitchen. A few years ago Harvey Bennett gave me a pair of scoters he shot in Gardiner’s Bay, and it seemed I had finally cracked the code of cooking these strongly flavored sea ducks.
    Over the course of several meals I fiddled with a wild goose recipe from the “L.L. Bean Fish and Game Cookbook,” changing the cooking time and adding additional liquid to make the duck more palatable and tender. Basically, it is a stripped-down coq au vin, the classic French method for preparing chicken in a satisfying tangle of onions, thickened stock, and red wine. I used a bottle of Wolffer that was left from a summer party we never had. It seemed fitting.