At this time of year, waiting for the early morning bus at 0645, every day I notice the changing light.
This morning, for example, I had enough light to make out the dim, grey footpath and so avoid the drifts of last year’s old leaves and follow the dips and falls of the tarmac without stumbling.
Waiting for my bus I listened to a cacophony of birds; mostly their calls are a mystery to me, but I am able to pick out the owl from a nearby farm and the cockerel from another. They hoot and crow in some kind of avian version of duelling banjos, while their cousins of hedge and field whistle and warble freestyle feathery jazz.
On the bus I watch the palette of the sky build from charcoal through pastels to acrylic blues. The pink and lilac and lemon drain away as the day begins, leaving only a passing memory. Most of the other passengers are in thrall to small screens of worldwide information and miss the world unfolding.
The cars parked by the roadside are coated in crispy shells of frost this morning, which looks very pretty until you need to clear the windscreen and persuade the door to open. Early drivers scrape unenthusiastically, vandalising the intricate lace-work as their breath and the car’s exhaust steam in unison.
I wish the driver would turn the heating up, or at least not leave the door open while we wait at the bus station. She is warm in her cabin and forgets we are exposed. My feet are unresponsive blocks of ice, although once in the office I will regret my winter layers.
Off the bus at last, fumbling with ticket and lanyard and lunchbox and phone, walking briskly to thaw my feet and warm my body, thinking ahead to tea and logging in and emails, meetings, databases thinking ahead to people around me and cake shared and stories told.
“I can’t believe I’m almost twenty one!” said in the horrified tone of the young, gazing upon the serried ranks of aged oblivion before her, not saying but thinking “Will I end up like them?”
“Twenty one? I’ve got knickers at home older than that!” exclaims the crone to my right.
We three crones exchange glances of misty-eyed remembrance of being horrified at twenty-one.
All three of us roar and cackle, then I answer the phone on script.
“Crone Team, EBL speaking, How can I help?” while beside me the other two rock in silent appreciation of our wit and wisdom.
Rounds of tea mark out the day, then back on the bus, rewinding the morning journey, light fading backwards and more smudges of coloured sky, richer red and purple and apricot before the light fails altogether. Yet still there is enough light this evening to avoid the drifts of last year’s leaves and follow the dips and falls of the tarmac without stumbling.
At home, kicking off shoes, pulling on pyjamas, catching up on all the adventures of the day. A letter from the tax office claims I owe them money. My payslip includes a tax rebate of money they owe me. The two amounts are similar and will take time to sort out for no gain to either of us, but it could be worse.
I sit with hair washed, snuggled in my dressing gown and am thankful for a day of many small pleasures, of old knickers and new friends.
May your days be full of the small joys that keep us sane.