Lockdown days mostly start (very) early at the allotment. A walk up the hill, sometimes with Howard and Rose. Usually, though, I am on my own. Just me and the wild things.
It has always been quiet here on the crest of the heath but never more than now. The young, handsome fox stands in my way on the path. Alert, mostly unperturbed. As a gesture I will sometimes take a step back. Its ears will flatten happily until it gets bored and slinks away.
The woodpecker has started joining me on the plot, engrossed in the nuts on Mary’s feeders. I watch it climb trunks and branches, listen as it moves further away. The owl I almost never see, though once I spotted it on the tree opposite, where it sat and stayed. Its morning call is constant.
The blue butterflies are here. The blackbirds and robins are brazen. A song thrush passes close by a couple of times before joining me, happily sitting on the bean poles.
Not all wild things are friendly. I was bitten by a spider while in the reeds taking photographs of marsh marigolds. The bites hurt for weeks and were slow to heal. A neighbour’s face was swollen for a month, so I guess I was almost lucky.
Forget-me-not and buttercups are rampant, the dark Geranium phaeum (cranesbill, mourning widow) spills on to the path. It would be hard to grow anything as beautiful. The yellow flag irises are about to burst in the ponds.
Two large elders are covered in dinner-plate flower; I watch as squirrels swing upside down to get at them. The dark berries will soon distract the pigeons from the plot. The trees will be alive with gorging, flapping birds.
Gardening is not all about what you grow. It can also be about keeping ears and eyes open.
Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com