Since I graduated from university, I've lived mostly in two of the world's biggest, most light polluted cities: London and New York. Not only does it become difficult to see the seasons change, beyond adding or subtracting layers from your wardrobe, but you forget what it's like to look at the sky.
I woke up in the middle of the night on Tuesday in the New Jersey countryside confused and alarmed. Outside my window, the trees gleamed silver, as though the garden was bathed by an alien klieg light. It was as bright as day and I could see into every corner.
It took more than a few minutes for me to work out that it was a full moon. Although I grew up in rural Kent in England, from the age of 19 I've lived in cities and I have no memory of seeing a garden lit by the moon.
It was more than disconcerting. I think of myself as a country girl at heart, for all the trappings of big city success, and to realise that I hadn't spent time anywhere in years that experienced darkness complete enough for the light shed by a full moon to register was a body blow.
Today I looked up from my desk, where I was toiling over my manuscript and saw the most beautiful purple sky as the sun set behind the leaf stripped trees. Something else you don't see in the city.
I realised yet again how fortunate I am to have such wonderful friends who have hosted me here in this ravishingly beautiful part of New Jersey whilst I have worked on my book this summer & autumn.
I leave in two weeks for England, the final stage in a year which has seen me spend time in London, the English countryside, Switzerland, San Francisco, Los Angeles - and all of California in between those cities, New York and New Jersey. I have no idea where I will be in January, but I know it will be a good place thanks, in part, to the fabulous people I have met & spent time with this year.