Up through the mist-kissed hills, past the crow-strewn rubbish, the young reefer-smoking worker taking a last toke before the Tube, the anxious fug of weed. To the gate, 6.30am at the autumn allotment, the fading days of heat culled by heavy rain.
I love this site. Looking up and seeing someone weeding. Leaving overgrown courgettes by the path. But there’s joy for me in solitude just past sunrise. It is there in the final call of the owls, the sneaky slink of the fox, the early buzz of late bees.
I am comfortable in melancholy. Tinkering at dawn, just fallen sunflowers for company. Training the variegated nasturtium vines up a leaning verbena. They will have conquered the pea and sweet pea sticks soon. It is just a matter of time until they, too, are defeated by frost.
The French beans have had a last spurt, fruit hanging heavy – some pods fat and near translucent with seed. Distended bellies pregnant with next summer’s hope.
I love this time when summer’s gaudier beauty fades; the near-shyness of late flowering. I don’t need to return home triumphant with a hunter’s haul. Maybe a few leaves of chard, a handful of cream beans or chervil, a small jug of autumn calendula to keep by the computer as I write.
Mostly, I am here now at the allotment to commune, if you will. To keep company. To bid a long goodbye.
There is a Hindu word: darshan. Loosely: in the company of the divine. And it is here for me in morning healing. Bearing witness. Beauty found in patches. There in a dew-jewelled petal, the slow droop of the tagetes, the thinner stems, the less virile grip of the climbing blue blauhilde.
There is wonder in early autumn. More shy maybe, but it’s there. No need now for the constant thrum of summer. I surrender to the fading. The slowing return to soil.
Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com