There's lots of painting going on everywhere you look. New pubs, bars and restaurants sprout on every street, full of hope that they will prove to be this year's 'in' place.
Even King's Parade is peaceful. That grass looked pretty good yesterday; it will look pretty good tomorrow and more or less all the time except when it's recovering from the BBC Outside Broadcast Unit.
It's pretty much the same cluster of bicycles, just a single tidy row, no need to scramble and search through a heap. The shops are full and neat, hoping for an influx of unaccountably guilty-feeling parents, wanting to cheer their progeny (or themselves) up with an impulse purchase.
And here it's the same. Life is changing in so many ways, starting any day now. I'll get the key to my shared study on Sunday, and then it starts. Two years that will, I suspect, feel like two weeks.
We all know in theory what the change means, but there's the theory and there's the fact. How will the children adapt to the change of routine? How much will I miss the school run (school cycle, that is)? How will we carve out time to be a couple in this new, exciting, alarming phase of our lives? Where will we be this time two years hence?
"Margaret, are you grieving over Goldengrove unleaving? Leaves, like the things
of man, you with your fresh thoughts care for, can you? Ah! As the heart grows
older it will come to such sights colder by and by, nor spare a sigh though
worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie. Yet you will weep, and know why.
Now, no matter, child, the name: sorrow's springs are the same. Nor mouth
had, no, nor mind, expressed what heart heard of, ghost guessed: it is the
blight man was born for: it is Margaret you mourn for." GMH
There's a little mourning to do for what's past; there's an 'unleaving' we have chosen. But we believe that we are following one who will not fail us. If sorrow's springs are the same, the springs of hope and joy lead also to one single source. It is in order to climb in pursuit of that source that we have set out, both to be refreshed ourselves and to bring its crystal water to others.