In the afternoon I stand up from my desk and look out the window. Come and play! cried the hills, ‘Old Time is still a flyin!’. And who can harden their heart against an invitation like that? I nod farewell to my to-do-list and head out the door into a bright, crisp December. It feels so good to be outside. To be placing one foot in front of the other and moving my body down the street and up the hill. So many things to see. The strings of Christmas lights fringing people’s homes, patiently waiting for darkness to fall, so that they can come alive like fairy dust or visiting stars. The man walking a big dog, who is greeted by barks from other dogs who are housebound and envious (how wonderful to be a big dog on a walk!). The teenager who is entirely un-charmed by the day’s beauty and who stalks down the street in a cloud of his own sullenness (how wonderful to be a glowering teenager at odds with the world!) The blond, tousle-haired runner, sweat-stained and disinclined towards conversation, whose legs pump up the steep incline with muscular and machine-like ease. His ears stuffed with music, his face wearing the inward expression of a soldier or saint (how wonderful to be a runner, rejoicing in your strength and sufficient unto your own two legs!). The bushes with purple flowers shaped like trumpets. The glimpses of Christmas trees through uncurtained windows. The woman with white hair, standing in her garden waiting for her courtesy shuttle service (how wonderful to be a white-haired woman in a garden!). The fallen leaves of the maple trees reddening the ground. The smell of smoke, and the sight of it faintly issuing from a chimney. The potted poinsettia plants adorning front steps and porches, like scarlet ambassadors. The man taking a walk with his very young son, who stops to stare at very un-extraordinary things, like wooden fences. (How wonderful to be very young and entranced by the un-extraordinary!). The mini-van with antlers attached to its roof and a large red nerf ball affixed to its front fender. The tall, spry woman wearing a straw hat, walking in the opposite direction as me. She smiles when our eyes meet. (how wonderful to be happy and spry and wearing a straw hat!). The mailman in his uniform and familiar white van, faithfully doing his rounds (how wonderful to be a mailman, bringing people their Christmas cards and packages!). The blue of the sky against the green of the hills. The laughter of unseen children. The splendidly gnarled limbs of the old oaks. Verandahs wreathed with evergreen boughs. Silver baubles hanging from bare branches. And then, eventually the welcoming sight of the red tiled roof and brown walls of our home. Tucked into the hills like a well-kept secret. Overrun by clover grass and memories. I pull out my key to open the door. (How very wonderful to be me, returning to this sweet home).