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"Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing." — Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Some mornings are suffused with apocalyptic significance, all the bees dying, dolphins floundering en masse onto beaches, oceans turning into acid, while I hunch over porridge and cocoa, scowling over the news, gloomier by the second; there is no emoticon for the melancholy invoked by the sixth mass extinction. So I take walks around the city, looking for signs of spring. Fishermen examine bright-blue nets and students toss a rugby ball across the university green. Swan’s nests, yellow stars shining in the verge, boys skipping stones: these are the horizons I took for granted by the end of summer, lost in winter, and re-discovered with the sunshowers of March.

Such weather is, in Japan, a fox’s wedding, while in France it is a wolf’s wedding; how charming, to couple toothsome beast and human ritual in the description of the unpredictable. In the shining lull between showers, I run into an Italian psychiatrist cycling along the canal. We discuss recent illnesses, latest discoveries, new enthusiasms. Elena Ferrante, a thrifted dress, the US election. Later I jot down little notes about each walk I’ve had this month. It is necessary to document these things, these happy encounters and waking desires, as a quiet resistance against the onslaught of the everyday, against the petty pressures that modernity exerts on our lives. It means you’re paying attention to yourself, rather than to incrementalised time, to how productive you can be in any given moment; a reminder of your own wilder self, even.


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