The tour ends. The rain begins to fall. There is a velvety sadness hanging between the trees. I trust the sadness because sadness is love.

We leave behind old friends whom we see at most once a year. We leave behind a raw existence where life and death fuse, animal-like. We leave behind a great piece of ourselves, out here.

Home brings other lessons, other pleasures, a different journey. Heading back, I only carry small things with me. I used to aspire to bigger things, triumphant things but they were cumbersome and false and tumbled out of my pack. Good riddance. It is one of the exquisite pleasures of age to aspire to less, not more. Now I only bear small things. Yes, I am a bearer of small things.

Like everyone else I meet, I scramble and struggle and deflect and dissemble. Truth is a hard jewel and there are few surfaces that it does not scratch.

They say a storm is coming. I keep looking at the trees silhouetted against the pre-dawn night to judge its arrival (and because their soft movements are so beautiful). It is, of course, ridiculous – when the storm is here I won’t have to consult the leaves to take its measure.

I was built for the joyous slog. I may miss the celebrations and garlands and the cutting of the cakes – indeed, I distrust celebrations – but the joy of a new morning bursts ecstatic inside me.

Was I true to myself and did I look after those I love? (Love is the only reason for doing anything, so spread a broad swath of love across the world.) My legacy is that I was. My obituary will be in the doing. (The rest is just a very fine dust.)

I sit in the dark before the dawn listening for the storm they say will come. I am at peace with the waiting. If I go looking, I find myself always in the quiet time before the dawn.

Spent of words now, I am suddenly cold. Was it the words that kept me warm or was it just the friction of getting them out? When the morning comes – and with it, the storm – the words will already have been written.

Even a great storm begins with the gentle rustling of the leaves.