The dawn comes later now. I rise to greet it, stepping outside the front door in my dressing gown.
My only company at this hour is the birds, kindling the morning light with their bright chatter; the soft, low, rhythmic coo of the wood pigeon, and the moon: a silver thumbnail ringed with purple and gold where the high cloud illuminates its halo. There is an earthy, metallic tang to the air which invites my lungs to expand. The cat pads up, purring wildly, paws soft and wet, coat smelling of damp earth. Poems drip from the mottled, fading bramble leaves like so many dewdrops.
Here at the night’s end, the world is still and cool, rippling with possibilities.
Morning comes. I go about the work of the day. My daughter. The school run. The housework, the laundry. I smudge the house and go to tidy the herb garden, clearing away the dead growth, tending the plants which envelop me in their soft fragrance as I pull and cut.
I harvest fennel, sage, lemonbalm and mint to use in herbal teas and baths.
I pluck the last of the tomatoes which I planted with my daughter in the spring, popping a few straight off the vine into my mouth, savouring the warmth and sweetness of the fruit.
I dead-head and gather the dry, talon-like seeds of the calendula to sow next year, and empty the kitchen peelings into the compost bin to be recycled into rich humus. It’s a joy to be creating my own organic, black soil for this tiny patch of land: reciprocating, in some small way, the gifts it offers me.
By the time I am finished, a still, golden light coats everything it touches in liquid silk. I smooth my fingers over the trunk of the baby ash tree and gaze up at the mother tree, which sways softly in the quickening breeze, bees and songbirds about her boughs, leaves making dappled patterns as though I am underwater, looking up at the surface of a lake.
A branch quivers and dances in a sudden flurry of wind, its leaves glimmering and trembling ever faster. Then a quick, unhesitating thing happens: the leaf, or the tree, or perhaps both, just lets go.
The leaf spirals to the ground in a fluttering motion not unrecognisable as joy.