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A month ago, the outside area at home became a carpet of brown and orange leaves. Underneath must have lurked small bugs trying to keep dry and warm. Meanwhile, inside our home, under a roof with luscious moss, we have hibernated over weekends. Loving the softness of blankets, listening to the slumbering snores from our cat, Italy, and watching Ivy’s warm paws stretched out on the sofa as she dreams, flinching to the rhythm of a wild hare chase, we all gently smile in winter’s envelope of cold. This is the time of year to take stock and slow down, echoing the dormant houseplants.

The reality of being a worker arrives every Monday morning for us humans in the home. Starting the week working from home, I ensure that the cat is bundled-up and well fed, and Ivy goes to day-care with a thick jumper. I treasure a workplace of silence and the view outside of misty farms. The big trees on the closest farm are almost skeleton-like, revealing nests and complex patterns of branches. We have heard an owl hooting and we know the foxes have been out on occasion because they frolic near the front door, leaving a scent for Ivy to follow nose to the ground, tail in the air.

Off to the London office I go twice or three times a week. Driving my little car, I battle to see the road to the train station because there are no road lights. Husband warms the car by driving up past the parish church before I get in, and it is warm, with no ice on the windscreen (he is a keeper!). The train timetable has a special leaf timetable for this time of year due to the slippery tracks caused by leaves. It is a squash getting in the warm train and finding a seat. With all my winter clobber on, I am sure I look far too large for a train seat, but I do surprise a few as I take outer layer #5 off.

With the darkness around us, it is also the best time to pack the brain with something new because hunkering down with a thick textbook is my idea of a winter well spent. Having just completed a course on ethics, I realised it is unethical to not know more about ethics. Another course on ontology, deontology and ethical triangulation awaits – words to keep brain fog at bay. I will not be dragging the textbook on my train trips to work – it is 810 pages of footnote-size print and 2 ¾ inches thick. Instead, I am hoping my neurons tick over under my vegan woolly hat as I wait for my train.