Sun through the windows woke me before 6 a.m. I took the spastic dog and my stiff back for a joint-loosening, dog-tiring walk among the dunes, to the beach, happy for the lack of wind, the abundance of sunshine. My feet froze at first, but eventually warmed up enough to trudge barefoot through the sand softened by last night’s high tide.

Hiking uphill in sand reminds me I am not in the shape I like to think I am. I caught my breath on a high dune, then a distant wave barrelled itself into a perfect freight train right, taking my breath away again. A jackrabbit bounded into my field of vision and I cringed, expecting the dog to go racing after. But Sandy didn’t even notice, preoccupied as she was with the scents of something else that had worked its way between the bushes.

I tried to still my mind, banish thoughts of work, of money, of anything other than the frost-touched leaves of the dune plants, the groves of beach pines, the sand ripples drawn by the wind and the way the just-up sun set fire to the green spread out across the beige, lit up the whitewater like whipped cream frosting, the whole scene glowing and alive.