Waking up on the allotment | Allan Jenkins

Dawn is the most precious time to spend outdoors, especially now that we have passed the spring equiniox

It is summertime, the week of the spring equinox: time to think and talk about light. About the joy of morning flowers and gardening, about escaping the demands of the day.

I was a country kid. We got up early, though it was harder for my brother than me. I would sneak out of the house before 7am, hunt for field mushrooms and magic for breakfast. I would watch the dog fox heading home, hear the skylarks, hope to see the kingfisher’s iridescent dash.

Now I catch the first bus to the allotment: 5.30am (it’s a little later on Sundays). I join the early workers and occasional late clubbers heading home. I like to be on site before sunrise, to walk through summer dew, to hear the songbirds, to watch the flowers stir.

Early morning is my best time to sow. I’ll hoe a row, water it in, maybe make up a mix of mustard and salad seed. The early bees are out from the neighbour’s hives. I’m there when everything wakes. The owls in the wood might call, the kestrel scan the site. The green woodpecker has been known to come and join me, but only at this time. The light is still soft. The wild things feel safe. I am no threat to anyone.

I’ll wheelbarrow the weeds to the compost bays. Sometimes I’ll just sit and soak it in. I’ll watch the robin watch me before she raids the worms where I have been breaking soil. I will check on the pond for frogspawn. I will see if the wild garlic we planted in the secret spot in the hedge behind us is starting to bud. If it is a Saturday or Sunday, I’ll stop off at the French bakery.

I understand gardening before 6am is likely a little early for you, but perhaps try it one day if you can. Bank a couple of hours of peas and peacefulness. You’ll still be home before anyone wakes.

To order a copy of Morning by Allan Jenkins (4th Estate, £12.99) for £11.04, go to guardianbookshop.com

Contributor

Allan Jenkins

The GuardianTramp

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