A morning walk.
I learned a long time ago that days in lonely places need to be kick-started aggressively. Get the endorphins pumping as your heart pounds then the long hours ahead seem less weighty; abbreviated.
The dogs follow me from the moment I wake up. I sternly say, ‘I’m going back to my bed with my tea you two; you’ll have to wait’. They gaze up at me solemnly, beseechingly from the floor.
They stand outside the bathroom door as I shower. They are trip hazards until I get my – at this time of year – wellies on and pick up the lead and then the wait erupts into a frenzy as they charge towards the gate and I am hauled along by six month old Jip who, despite her size, is as strong as an ox.
Why the lead Ant asks as we walk together on a Sunday and Jip pulls me down the hill so that my answer is snagged on the wind and he has to ask again, ‘what, why?’. Because of the road, I wail as Jip charges forth. It’s hardly the M4 laughs Ant. Quite. But there are bicycles to be toppled if Jip appears like a bullet out of the tea and pluckers on their way into the fields to be terrorized when they mistake Jip’s enthusiastic hellos as imminent attacks.
Yesterday’s storm, which took out the internet – as rain clouds obliterated the satellite – and the electricity because the lightening rods erected on my roof tripped the power, is long gone. Not a trace above me to suggest last night’s tempest.
The sky is rinsed Omo Blue and the tea and forest newly painted green; a Dulux colour chart: Enchanted Eden, Luscious Lime, Kiwi Crush.
The earth beneath my booted feet is damp and gouged with the rivers that rushed; all that remains are scars and debris and the gossamer wings of flying ants which flew briefly and ecstatically. Siafu march determinedly onwards in their trenches; regimented lines. I am glad of my footwear. Occasionally the dogs tread carelessly and must pick a nipper from between their pads. I can hear frogs. Birds. The occasional Sykes money scold from damp tree tops.
And Jip continues to charge blindly onwards, ebulliently disobedient. I only know where she is by the shiver of tea bushes above her as she races between them, her tail an antenna. Occasionally, to get her bearings, she must stand on her hind legs and peer above the foliage, like a gerenuk. Pili is altogether more decorous.
I harness Jip before we cross the road home and – despite heavy panting and a long pink tongue lolling – she has lost little of her exuberant speed and so she pulls me up the hill.
I didn’t tell Ant that bit; she helps me home.