It’s 6.15 – still early, but too many ideas and things to do, and I’ve lost all taste for languishing. A quick cup of coffee, a glance at the Washington Post. (Go on, guys, just bail us out, stimulate us – before the blood of more publishers stains our words.) On with an ancient pair of track pants, hoodie, walking boots and off I go, up the road towards the lake.
Past the empty lot, and a dart of scarlet, brilliant and gone almost before I can take it in. A Red Cardinal, whirring through the winter foliage. Up the road, down the hill, saying hi to a rabble of Golden Retrievers ripping through the yards, and the friendliest maintenance guys you could ever find (and never in London). Cutting through the wooded path that winds round to the lake.
A commotion in the bushes to my left. And suddenly five does burst out of the trees a few feet in front of me, their white-bob tails wiggling to attention. They stop. I stop. They regard me silently from the earth above, and I stare up at them with soft eyes. We bid each other good day and move quietly on. The woods are full of sound, but we are alone in this early morning as the pale sky turns to blue through patchwork branches.
Up the sharp bank, where once a puppy named Hogan tipped and rolled, eyes of light, bright tongue flapping. Down to the lake, the ice gone. A staccato honking and I glance upwards, to see the Royal Flight of Canada geese in their vast, perfect arrow formation arcing across the sky above me. I sit on the wooden bench, looking out over the smooth, quiet water. I know it now –the weight of stone in my hand as it skims, the twig that tests ice, the deep dark of weed and silt. Trees turning, the balance of sky, water and light. I see through my inward lens, each day different, the small sounds of transformation.
Back up the long tarmac road and the tat-tat-tat of woodpeckers on hollow trees. Busy, determined, jobs to do. Reminding me that it is February 11, that it is time to hurry home and re-enter my virtual urban world.
But I am the Greenhouse and here is my compass. Here is my heart.