Having made the mistake of reading the news on my phone before even getting out of bed I find myself under a cloud.
It’s hard sometimes to resist the gloom, and the irony of hankering after the days when all we had to worry about was Brexit is not lost on me.
The last time I felt I was losing my emotional balance in the face of an unstoppable onslaught of bad news was last weekend when, in a moment of inspiration, I turned to Terry Waite who was held hostage in Lebanon for five years chained to the wall with no natural sunlight. Suddenly being stuck indoors with Netflix and a garden didn’t seem so bad.
Conscious that I have a lot to be grateful for, I started to use my morning walk with Daisy as a way of making a mental gratitude list, and I found that my mind took me on strange and delightful journeys.
Climbing my way up the hill towards the sun as it peered over the roofs of the houses, the dog sniffed incessantly in the grass verges and I examined my dry cracked hands, sore from the constant washing, and the first thing I felt grateful for was having bought so much handmade soap in a little French market in Cassis a couple of years ago.
All the little brightly coloured bars lined up in wooden boxes, their perfume wafting across the square. I didn’t know whether to sniff them or eat them. We wanted them all. Lime, lavender, peach, patchouli, grapefruit.
Walking past the stalls in the public garden by the Musée d’Arts there was a man making little clay pots on a wheel. He asked my daughter her name and then made her a small vase with fluted edges.
“How are we going to look after this?” She said to me.
“Carefully” I replied.
That was the morning I spent 60 euros on two bits of cheese and everyone laughed at my foolishness. I winced at them all cutting great hunks from the absurdly thin-looking wedges I’d tentatively presented for lunch. I wanted to protect my cheese like the pot the man had made for my daughter.
Arriving in the park I kick Daisy’s old threadbare football high into the blue sky and she tears off leaping to grab it in her jaws, turning on her heels and trotting back to drop it at my feet. Looking at me she flicks her head back in a sharp movement as if to say, “Kick it again”, so I do, and everything is like it was.
After an hour or so we are walking back home. The roads are deserted and there is an eerie silence. But in the distance, out and away from the town towards the hills, the view is the same one that I always see. The green fields are the same, the church is the same, the buds appearing on the shrubs and trees are bursting through with no less vigour than usual. The blossom, if anything, seems whiter and more beautiful than it has in years before.
Daisy is still dawdling.
“Shall we go and have some toast?” I say. Her head lifts towards me for a moment and she sets off with more purpose pulling me gently back home.