There’s mud clagging under my nails again. It feels good.
Even the nettle rash stinging my fingers is greeted like a blessing. That cross between a prickle and an itch seems to herald an reawakening. A fresh start - in me and of the allotment.
A weekend that actually felt like spring; what a treat. And at last, the opportunity for me and Bloke to get down and dirty in the beds again.
The allotment had been calling to us for weeks and finally, we were answering. We’re well over a month late, but what can you do when Mother Nature had gone Alzheimer’s and decided April was January, other than optimistically and excitedly buy packets of seeds and bags of chicken manure - and wait?
But on the first balmy Sunday since what seems like forever, we’re wellied up and turning the key in the padlock on the allotment gate. I expect it to be as stiff and rusty as my knees, but no. It falls open in one slick click; other gardeners, the hardier perennials, have clearly heeded the call of duty and already braved the climes to turn frozen ground.
Just beyond the potting shed, there lie their beds all neatly made up. They look like guest rooms in a seaside B&B; a bit spartan, but functional and more importantly, ready.
In comparison, our untidy plot is like something out of Shameless. But as soon as we stick our hands into earth, we realise we’re just in the nick of time. The soil has just started to warm, but it’s moist enough to turn easily with a fork and the weeds have only just begun their vengeful claim.
As I yank out the beginnings of foxgloves and straggles of young clover, then dig deep for the roots of dandelions and docks, I take care to avoid rows of what are clearly something edible, though I remember not what. Slender green shoots they are now; I’ll give ‘em a few weeks in which to identify themselves.
Bloke, meanwhile, is sprucing the greenhouse and dreaming of tomatoes turning to blush, four months’ hence.
Though, as we dig and scrub our little corner of world, I can’t help wondering if we’re doing all this prepping and priming in vain. I mean, we did it all last year, with such zeal, and there was no endless supply of salad leaves and currants. Not a single runner or beet did we pick. Things just disappeared. Washed away in the washout summer. For Good Life, read Flood Life.
Still you can but hope. And get yer ‘taters in.