The sighs of relief when I’ve taken myself up to the allotment at odd times this month have been deep and genuine. Half an hour snatched at lunchtime, early in the morning before a busy day, the last hour before dusk falls too heavily to see. This November is difficult. It would have been Dad's birthday month. It is Dad's birthday month.
What an I doing? Not a lot. Pacing. Looking. Thinking. I harvested the last of the potatoes. Planted the first of the bulbs. Dug out some deep rooted dandelions. Shook my head in despair at the slug-damaged brassicas.
So much for nematodes.
Amazingly, there are still flowers blooming. Marigolds, Cosmos, the climbing rose and the last sweet pea. They’re refusing to admit that their time is done.
At the canal end of the plot, the sparrows are clattering and chattering around in the oranging knotweed. Their antics make the bare stems rattle. Another type of rustle makes me look up at the larch in time to see a squirrel racing from one branch to another.
The robin comes along to check what I’m doing. Investigating the ground I’ve dug over for tasty bits.
I come home with a good inch of mud on my boots, and at least another inch in the turn ups of my jeans, under my fingernails and, on one occasion, in my hair (I blame a particularly tough root that gave way with a snap and arched over my head, sprinkling me with mud as it went).
I’ve gathered seed heads, shaking them over the ground before bagging them to come back home with me. I’ll put them in the airing cupboard to gently dry before shaking the last of the seeds into brown envelopes.
The sun on Wednesday was strong in a blue sky, forcing the removal of jacket and scarf. I dug out weeds quickly, pruned back the wineberries, stood and watched the magpies shout insults at each other.
Made some more plans. Went home and dropped an eye-watering amount of money on seeds.