A recent walk happened on the first spring-like day of the year. As I strolled in a golf shirt enjoying the warmth, I thought about the change in seasons, and coming into Mount Pleasant Cemetery, those thoughts continued to evolve.

There is an old notion of the universe being a kind of clockwork, and that the world moves in cycles and revolutions like the gears within a clock. Turning, turning, and always moving. The cycles of the seasons; the annual migrations of birds and butterflies; the rotation of the earth and the steady track of the sun across the sky; the tumbling of tin cans rattled by the wind down the road; even the click-clack of trains on tracks.

Walking through the cemetery also brings more emotional cycles to mind; the happy shouts of kids at play next to the graves where tears were once shed, or last year’s dry leaves skittering in the wind before coming to rest as mulch to feed next year’s growth. Growth, blossom, decay, and rebirth.

Walking my usual route through the cemetery, itself a cycle of dips and rises and paths and roads, and passed by riders on their own (bi)cycles, I continued to revolve and evolve in my mind this notion of cycles. My walks fall into patterns, I go through periods when I wander this neighbourhood and then that one, and move on to longer walks and then back to shorter ones. I oscillate between the long and the short, the familiar and the novel.

But COVID has me stuck in a reduced cycle, like a car forced to stay in 2nd or 3rd gear. I’m itching to break out into 5th and 6th, to stretch out my short walks to a really long multi-day walk, but I’m stuck in this spin cycle of patient and plodding and close-to-home. And all the while, the virus and its human host are observing their own cycles of evolution and adaptation while in parallel the science evolves and adapts in a struggle to keep up.

The clockwork universe is probably a simplistic metaphor. There are elements of that metaphor that ring true, but I find that it’s more than just clockwork, or perhaps more accurately, that’s its more than just one clock. Imagine clocks within clocks, within yet more clocks, with overlapping parts that influence each other. Our world is complicated. But each cycle is simple in itself. Winter to spring, spring to summer, summer to autumn, autumn to winter.

And neighbourhood to neighbourhood, street to street, step to step, walk by walk. The cycle continues.