It is largely empty at the allotments. The usual few hardy gardeners linger. Covers are coming on in different corners of the site. Wrappings of various types. I am still a little resistant, more open to accidents: unexpected shoots breaking through, flowers falling over. My preference is to see, say, robins rushing around and searching out seed, watch them and hope I might unearth a worm, turn over leaf mould or manure. Though I am more mindful now since seeing a kestrel swoop and carry off a young bird distracted by keeping me company.
We have netted two small areas of the plot, being careful to leave sections of the sides open for birds to get in and out. And, yes, I know their freedom of movement is not the idea, but I have had too many traumas freeing frightened blackbirds caught in others’ fruit cages. Our thinking is to limit the damage of hungrier pigeons as they decimate the kale leaving only brassica bones, a bird battlefield.
The truth is, I cherish these more contemplative times at the plot. Mooching mainly. Being more at one, if you will, with the falling leaves, the failing year. More time to appreciate, say, the tall flowering fennel skeletons that take on a darker hue, the red orache seed rusting, wondering where they might sprout in spring. These are the gardening months of melancholy without much to do.
It is, as always, the being there that counts for me, though of course this comes with food to take home, a few flowers to admire and pick for a jug. The joy of simply sitting on a damp chair sometimes with a bun from the bakery, a mug of hot tea.
We have a couple of small chores with no great urgency. Removing the need to do stuff frees up new appreciation. The wild luck to sit at a quiet plot more at peace with the world.
Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com
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