And dinner. I had room in my brain for thoughts of dinner.
Perhaps I am not the only cold and hungry soul out there for whom outdoor pursuits are a good excuse for a slap-up hot meal. So I offer up my antidote to a cold afternoon: easy hearty chicken soup with sweet Italian sausages.
Chicken soup for the birder's
Serves: 6 birders who've been standing around for hours on a chilly day
Throw the following in a big pot:
4 stalks of celery, sliced
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (that's 1/2 butternut pumpkin if you're in Australia)
4 medium-sized carrots, peeled and sliced
1 big potato, peeled and cubed
kernels cut from 1 corncob
6 medium-sized mushrooms (portobellos are good), sliced fairly finely
1 big onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, peeled, but it's okay to leave whole as it melts into the soup
4 skinless chicken thigh fillets, chopped into bite-sized pieces (thank you, feathered friends)
1 quart (1 litre) of chicken stock
1 teaspoon or so of salt
a good sprinkling of dried parsley
Bring all this to a gentle boil, then turn it down and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until all the veggies are nice and soft.
While it's simmering, cook 4 sweet Italian sausages and slice them.
Rinse and drain a can of cannellini beans.
Add the sausages and beans to the soup and let them warm up for a few minutes. Taste to see if it needs more salt and pepper.
Eat with crusty bread rolls while ruminating on an obscure bird you saw that day.