Delighting in being first up, the first time for a long time. At first light. Before even the dawn is fully awake. I won’t put the radio on, not yet. Won’t immerse myself in the brokenness of a down-spiralling news story.

Pottering round making tea; shovelling ash from the wood-burning stove; scrumpling clinic appointment letters into fire-lighters; arranging sawn sticks and cleft logs in order of combustibility. Imitating the rituals the Beloved has taken on, particularly lately when I have been languishing (and not anguishing – now there’s an improvement!) in bed and not coming downstairs until noon.

Today at last feeling well and outwards-facing; windowing the wet sky and the drabbened garden borders, and not frowning. Happy to be able to unlock the back door and stride strongly, once more, along the rickety paving. Towards where the compost daleks huddle under the birch-tree-that-Beloved-has-agreed-to-fell.

Emptying the kitchen compost caddy is my ritual rather than his. I have composted kitchen waste and garden debris for even longer than he has, upward of forty years. With varying degrees of success turning the slime, the shreddings, and the wood-chips into a passable mulch. This is slowly converting tiny parts of our silty-clayey  into something friable, shovel by shovel. And enhancing the feeding opportunities for the birds that are being forced off the denuded “development land” and into well-established gardens like ours.

I lift the lid, tip in the parings of two days’ cooking, three days’ teabags – glad to be outside again after nigh on ten days’ confined to quarters. I add soft sawdust to the caddy. My sister has commissioned four greenwood chairs from the Beloved’s workshop, so we have plenty.

Over the stir of constant traffic, the hum and thud of the building site a mile away, birdsong! Lately there has been very little; only the mournful robin and occasionally the wren. And I am too deaf to hear it from indoors, anyway.

My heart quickens as I listen attentively, straining for confirmation of what I hope, against hope, to  recognise. The melodic harvest of a wet night and a dampling morning.

Yes! As if to welcome me, out from the inside, into the outside. The evanescent beginning of the song thrush’s winter song. Just like I wrote about two years ago , and nothing like that.

Going inside I smile. Good morning world. You are not quite broken, and neither am I.