I began writing this post early in the summer, but somehow couldn’t find the ‘umph’ to finish it. Which I’ve realised is symptomatic of how I’ve felt for much of this year, or at least the summer. I’ve failed to respond to emails, I’ve struggled to concentrate on reading, I’ve struggled with all sorts of things. I was going to say: for no reason that I can put my finger on. But as I write this, the reason has become clearer to me. It is a sense of despair that I’ve never really felt before: despair because we’re living in a climate emergency with a government that has no real intention of addressing it; we’re living in a social situation where poverty and other divides are becoming ever greater with a government that positively fosters division; we’re living through a global pandemic with a government that is determined only to enable their friends to profit from it. Aged 65 (soon to be 66), I see my years ahead diminishing, leaving my children’s generation and my granddaughter’s generation a world which is not the one I’ve strived all my life to pass on to them. And that, frankly, is hard to come to terms with. There is a disconnect between my own happy and comfortable life and what I see all around me, which I find difficult to reconcile.
This is all about my allotment, and my failure to get and stay on top of things this year. And, it’s just this year I’m letting go of, not the allotment or my commitment to want to keep it going properly.
But somehow, this year I just lost it and haven’t really ever quite got it back. It started when I was ill for much of October. I lost heart with it, and then other things in life intervened and here we are – mid June, with so much still not sown or planted out.
I’m an optimist, and not one to give up. I’m already thinking that instead of pushing myself to ‘catch up’ for this year (which I kind of know I never will manage), I’m going to focus on doing what I can with what I have, on using everything I’ve already got growing, and on preparing the plot really, really well for next year.
So my plan now is to make the most of the things I have managed to get in the ground for this summer (and especially all the fruit as it ripens – not let the birds get more than their fair share this year), and over and above that focus my efforts on getting the plot in really good condition for the winter and next year.
Weeding has got to be fairly high up on that list – the more weed seeds that set, the worse the problem will be next year and years to come. There are also some structures I want to add in, and some that need maintenance work done (a new roof covering for the henhouse must be top of that list, and some structures for protecting crops next after that). I want to paint all the woodwork black, and to add in as many perennials as I can. The fruit definitely hits that spot, and there are more vegetables I can add in as well, especially if I can find some cuttings of perennial kales and similar.
I’ve already managed to boost the amount of rainwater I can capture and use, which has made a massive difference to everything, especially in the now regular spring/summer droughts. With the hens, the soft fruit, rhubarb, the apple and pear trees, and the asparagus, I think around half my plot is now perennial, and I’d like to boost that to around 2/3. With just two of us to feed I think I can achieve making the plot less labour-intensive than it has been but just as productive.
So. A new direction to follow, or perhaps just moving further along in the same direction. But the main thing I think is to be honest with myself about how much work I both want and am able to put in to keep it all going.
And now I realise that what this post is really about is allowing myself to adjust to a new reality, which I may not have chosen but which is mine nonetheless. About letting go of the ‘what might have been’ and accepting that what is, is. Not to say that it can’t be changed, but not to pretend that it is other than it is.