It is April now. You can see it in the restless streets, stretching to fit in groups of people meandering in the sun as the last of winter’s rain sits brown and brooding in the gutters. Five in the evening looks soft from the window and then surprises with the fierceness of its heat. Outside, the birds are loud and fast, safe from the languid cats who drape themselves over warm concrete walls. One of them approaches me, speeding up as I crouch to meet him, then crashing into my hand with his hard, thrumming head. I am supposed to be running, but there’s no hurry, after all. Sinewy and glossy, he winds himself around me until I relent and sit on a low wall, and then jumps into my lap, digging damp paws into my legs and showing me his white needle teeth as he looks up and purrs.
Although it is April now, the forest and the mountains don’t know it. The air is almost wet, undeterred by winter layers and clinging frigid to my skin. The clouds sit in thick, rounded banks above the forest; they seem to melt as they touch the mountain peaks, and then they race, smoke-like, towards the ground. The macaques look silver in this cold light, their backs hunched towards the sodden grass as they gather seeds with busy, rapid hands. Some of them pluck the sturdy white flowers that scatter across the green, inspecting them in tight fists before eating them, eating more. There are new babies in the group, the first of the year, hair so dark they look damp against their mothers’ chests as they cling there, tiny but strong. The monkeys continue to move and eat and groom and scrap, and take no notice of the weather, even as it starts to rain.
Back where it is warm, I am running along the corniche as white clouds drift straight from a storybook to rest lightly above the sea. There are people in the water, spluttering and splashing in the shock of cold, and people on the sun-yellow pavement, just walking, with nowhere particular to go. My legs are protesting and it would be so easy to slow down and move calmly with the water and the people and the shadows bumping on the waves, but the cliffs on the horizon are beautiful, and the sun is hot on my skin, and, just at this moment, how can anything be wrong in the world?
Before I run home, I let the breaking waves draw me in, and I walk for a while on the beach, watching the sea lick at the damp sand, leaving white bubbles too numerous to count before they burst and disappear. The sea has left a trail of dubious treasures further up the beach – broken shells, plastic bottle tops and the tired, tangled lines lost from fishing boats all lie half-covered by dry, cloying sand. I break into a run again, stumbling slightly as the sand gives way beneath my feet, but moving with the breeze and the birds, and the sea, never resting, beside me.