26 May 2014

A Sense of Self

This isn't the blog I intended to write today. No, I planned to post a story about the four days I just spent walking in the Scottish Borders. Either that, or our week away at the Ride2stride Walking Festival, or maybe my new project to walk A Dales High Way on alternate Saturdays with a group from Nidderdale or.... 

Well you get the idea. I've got plenty going on, most of it involving walking and all of it taking me away from home. And that's where the problem lies.

Last night I had a visit from the secretary of our allotment association, a dear friend of mine, who wondered on behalf of t'committee, whether I was actually going to plant anything on my plot this year. She offered me 3 alternatives - give it up, share with someone from the waiting list or commit to cultivating. I tried to convince her that there was a 4th option - leave me and my weeds to our own devices but no - I have to make my mind up.

My plot looks like this ...
...when it should look like this
Our allotments are stunning, tucked away behind the church in Saltaire and bordered by the Leeds Liverpool canal. I've spent some of my happiest hours there. Me, the dog, a flask and a sunny afternoon. But with a long waiting list and most plots shared by 2 or 3 families already it's really not fair that I hang on to mine.
The canal flows along the bottom of the site
So with a heavy heart I've been down this morning, picked my last rhubarb, collected my tools and handed back the key to the taps. I know it's the right decision. I don't have the time, I'm not at home enough and every time the sun shines there's an almighty tussle between the walking boots and the gardening gloves. It might even be a relief to be rid of it, one less thing to worry about in an already overcrowded life, but I'm heartbroken all the same

It's not just that I'll miss the gardening, I have a garden at home, I can neglect that instead. It's not the company - I enjoy a chinwag with my allotment neighbours but I see most of them around the village anyway. It's not even losing the peace and quiet although one of the things I love most is that feeling of being away from phones and emails and domestic responsibilities for an hour or two. 

No, I think I'm saddest about giving up the notion of myself as someone who has an allotment. It's who I think I am - walker, gardener, writer, cook - and giving up the allotment feels like I've lost a part of myself.
Last year's apple and redcurrant jelly

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