On my last few trips to the plot, I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon developing. What is beginning to resemble a path is establishing itself right across the middle of my fruit bed.
I initially thought it was just where I’d been walking around on my fruit patch whilst weeding and pruning, but then I spotted that the path seemed to come off one of the main walkways, go through my plot, and join another trail. It almost looked as if someone had been taking a shortcut through my plot.
At first, I was miffed and then confused. Why would someone take a blatant shortcut across my allotment? Who was this cheeky monkey?
Then I twigged. Its not someone taking a shortcut, it is something – something like an animal.
The animal must be a fox, or perhaps one of the infamous badgers, the nemesis of all Burnham sweetcorn growers. To create such a prominent path, the animal must be taking this route through my plot almost every day.
I’m rather a creature of habit myself, so it’s nice to know that routine exists in the animal kingdom too. I’ve often thought of camping at the plots overnight to see what they get up too. I love the idea that there is another world to the allotment after the sun goes down and the gates close.
I easily forget that this world goes on when I’m not there. I often don’t think this broadly, forgetting also that the allotment isn’t just where I grow fruit and veg, it’s a habitat too.
The new path has reminded me of this, and all the other creatures that come out to play when night arrives: hedgehogs, bats, moths, spiders, rabbits as well as the regular enemy, snails, and slugs.
It’s like a party in my absence, and I find the concept very exciting. All these animals, pottering about on the same space that I spent my day, doing very different things to me – prowling, hunting, eating. Out of sight to us humans, keeping us oblivious to their existence except for the little clues they leave.
And for me, this is the most exciting part: they wander about, having their fun, and the chances are I’ll never, ever catch them at it.