Autumn is a farewell song to summer as winter creeps nearer with each turn of the earth. Already I forget the hot sting of sunlight on my skin, the sun-warmed blood pulsing, radiating through patchwork veins, a soothing quietude. Damp skies painted with grey strokes leave a chill in my bones, deep in the marrow where winter’s blood is made with old magic, but somewhere, buried within the blackness of my flesh, a spark of gold lingers, a brief image of summers past with a promise of more to come. There is hope hiding there, in the darkest of times, waiting, like summer’s blazing sun, to rise again and envelop the world with its light.

Venturing outside as lockdown in London eases has become more harrowing and anxiety filled than before as people flood the streets and pavements once again. It feels both dangerous and normalising to see so many people out and about, as though the threat has evaporated, but on some level we know it hasn’t. It’s still there, lurking in the shadows, waiting to reappear–and perhaps with a vengeance. Walking through the park and gazing upon mirrored pools of water evoke a sense of calm; feelings like serenity, peacefulness, and tranquility assuage the unease settled deep down within our nerves. If only it wasn’t temporary.

An oak tree filtering sunlight through its lace-patterned leaves. A gorgeous sight at 5AM. Most of London is asleep then. I passed a few old men walking even older dogs as I made my way to the Heath. The young rise late, if they rise at all. I used to stumble into awakeness. Now I fall. The trick is to land on your feet. Today my feet took me to watch the sunrise. All the birds were awake, singing their signature songs. Two foxes watched me pass, their human faces pinched with suspicion. I stepped over shell-less slugs and climbed the too tall hill. A bench welcomed me and my mug of coffee. Still warm. And I watched the sun rise in the distance. A woman appeared on the path behind me, singing off key. Good morning, London.

One thing lockdown has given me is the time to explore my local neighbourhood. This lovely trail is my latest discovery. Walking beneath the green canopy feels ten degrees cooler than on pavement— a perk for hot summer days. Who knew there was an enchanted forest just off Finchley Road?

London’s lockdown seems to have ended. The streets are crowded with people again, as though the threat of death no longer looms. Is it the fair Friday weather that lulls them into a false sense of security? Or is it the human condition to forget, doomed to repeat our painful histories, that pulls them out of their homes in too large crowds? Passing them on the pavement feels like playing Russian roulette, an unnecessary game with a consequence that outweighs the prize. There are too many people willing to play. Too many bullets in the gun. I’m staying inside again. I can always walk in my dreams.