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Landscape (UK) - - Contents - Rachel Hawkins Ed­i­tor

IN THE SUM­MER, I spend as much time tend­ing my al­lot­ment as I can. Evening vis­its nearly al­ways in­volve a con­fab with my fel­low grow­ers about what is eat­ing their peas or whether or not it’s been a good year for soft fruit. Some­body al­ways has an in­ter­est­ing snip­pet of news or a set­back they are hop­ing for help with. Of course, a flask of tea and a packet of bis­cuits is al­ways needed for such im­por­tant dis­cus­sions. On an­other day, I will ar­rive early to steal a quiet cou­ple of hours by my­self in the cool morn­ing air. I can’t help but feel a lit­tle smug as I un­lock the gate to find that I am the first to ar­rive. A haze sits over the plots, the sound of my foot­steps on the gravel path am­pli­fied by the si­lence. My neigh­bour’s chick­ens sense my ar­rival and start cluck­ing hope­fully. In Au­gust, weed­ing is no longer the main fo­cus of my time. In­stead, wa­ter­ing takes the top spot. Growth has slowed but plenty of drink is needed for ev­ery­thing to plump and ripen to its full po­ten­tial. Two cans at a time, I tread a fa­mil­iar route back and forth to the troughs dot­ted along the edge of the plots. I plunge the cans un­der the sur­face. The cold wa­ter is relief for my dusty hands. I start at the bot­tom of the plot so with each jour­ney the dis­tance be­comes less. The cut­ting patch is first. Dahlias and cos­mos pro­vide me with con­tin­u­ous vases of colour, and I re­ward them by flood­ing their beds. Work­ing me­thod­i­cally, I rel­ish the rhythm of al­ter­nate jour­neys of light then heavy arms. I lose count of the num­ber of jour­neys I have made. I tuck the cans away in the shed, time to head home. The door sticks so I give it a sharp kick. I think my noise-mak­ing has dis­turbed the chick­ens again, but it is just my neigh­bour ar­riv­ing with their break­fast.

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