Tilly and I go into the hills on an early morning in mid-winter. The ground is frozen underfoot, frost crackling under paw and boot, but the sun rises to warm us as we climb, up and up and up. The path leads to the bench where we often sit and watch the world below: the birds in the bracken, the sheep in the fields, the cows on the Common, the moor beyond.
"To me, literature is a calling, even a kind of salvation," Susan Sontag once said. "It connects me with an enterprise that is over two thousand years old. What do we have from the past? Art and thought. That's what lasts."
This also lasts. The sun. The land. The mist floating over the patchwork fields. And walking through the hills with a good black dog is another kind of salvation.
There are snowdrops blooming in the underbrush; we are on the downward slope of winter now. I can feel things quickening inside me, new ideas and a fresh green energy that will rise like sap as winter ends.
"Not much longer," I whisper to Tilly. She feels it too. And we are ready.