1. Morning walk

    I get off the bus a few stops earlier these days so I can walk across the fields to the university. The grass is long and wet with dew. If the sun is shining, as it is today, steam rises from the earth in the heat. These are plain fields, ringed by trees, nothing special, dotted with a few daisies and mole hills here and there. They are not sweeping alpine meadows carpeted with tiny flowers, red and gold and pink, with great mountain peaks rising on the horizon, but are pretty and quiet in the early morning sunshine for all that.

    I stop underneath a small stand of trees, resettle the strap of my leather satchel on my shoulder and look up through branches that are slow and heavy with white blossom. The deep, sweet joy of springtime. If I stood on tiptoe and stretched upwards I could throw my arms around everything and kiss the sky and it would love me.

    There is a man who walks his two Old English Sheepdogs there. I see him every morning, flanked by the massive beasts, their long piebald coats trailing behind them, eyes hidden deep in their fur, pink tongues unfurled. They lollop around him, bounding off in opposite directions, excited about every single thing they encounter. Look, grass! Wow, a leaf! Holy shit, A STICK! I LOVE EVERYTHING! Then they trot back to make sure their flock of one human is still on the right path. They are so beautiful and happy, galloping around like huge, grinning shagpile carpets. We pass each other at the beech trees, the man and I, me with my now damp canvas shoes, he swinging two long leather leashes from his hand. I am shy and never really know whether to look him in the face and smile at him. But today I do and he smiles back and nods. The dogs circle me, coming closer and sniffing my knees. I run my fingers through coarse fur for a second before they are bounding away again. LOOK LOOK LOOK, A ROCK!

    I could walk all day across the hills and through the fields, stopping to lie on the grass and watch the clouds now and then, but I carry on towards my office. There is work to do.

    The sunshine and the wet grass and the blue sky and the happy dogs and the smiling man and me.

    It was a pretty great start to the day.