I was on the road again. The clear sky had been crowded out by the overhanging branches and early spring growth of leaves. The adjective is dappled. Dappled belongs to horses, soft pony colours that can be found in painting-by-numbers kits, number 7 brown, number 8 white, number 9 both brown and white mixed. At this stage, the painter needs to step back to appreciate the effect; the light is fading and the detail difficult to spot. From light to shade, my bike moved forward without any added caution. It was a Sunday morning, the first promise of spring, the beginning of new growth, a canopy under which to shelter.
Into all dreams some darkness creeps. Cycling, on such a morning, has the ability to take me away from the problems of the world. Up ahead was my neighbour. I had caught up to him and had stayed back so that I could maintain a safe social distance. There are cautionary videos doing the rounds on digital platforms that demonstrate just how far moisture clouds can travel once they have been expelled from the body. It’s very rare to see people openly coughing or sneezing in public, much less frequent than it was in the recent past. There’s a leprosy element to social interactions now that makes it damning for individuals to self-confess by succumbing to a natural bodily response whilst in sight of others. A couple of months back, whilst on a visit to London, we shared trains, busses and tubes with people who found it rather easy to expel unwanted bodies into small, contained public places. Back then, there were people who wore face-masks, shuddered at the sight of others erupting, and maintained a very anxious distance between themselves and any threat that could possibly creep up on them. Space is all in this new world and it would be imposed upon everybody.
My neighbour was about twenty metres ahead. We had started to push on a little bit. It was Sunday morning and we were free of imposed isolation. There were walkers and other cyclists, but not too many. There would be a short climb followed by a decent descent that led to the mouth of a village. We would be taking a sharp right at the end of the descent and then setting ourselves for a short climb that would deliver us to an elevated spot that allowed a view over the surrounding countryside, divided by the humming route of an A road. After that would come another right that would take us onto a leg-biting climb. I was looking ahead, planning for what I would be doing in the very near future. That was before time changed.