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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The insects and birds are still busy…

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It is the months of moles and rusted mushrooms; of gathering fruit and nuts; of sticky cobwebs wrapping the house and grimly determined spiders.

Autumn comes quickly by the Kattegat sea. The water cools, the mists rush in, geese gather in the bay, flying in 50-bird runs.

The blackbirds have moved from cherries to the rowan. The young female pecks at the flame-coloured berries. The young male attacks them whole, filling his beak.

The cows feast on tree trimmings and round bales of hay. Crowds of crows and gangs of gulls patrol the new-cut wheat fields, looking for grain the machines have missed.

Henri and her mum have made Ina’s blackcurrant jam, quick-set, smelling strongly of fruit. The birds have cleared the redcurrant bushes. The pears have vanished though I have no idea why. The apples aren’t far from ready. The hazelnuts we’ll gift to the red squirrels.

We cut the ‘meadow’ to spread the seed. We will leave it through next summer. The bees have largely disappeared. There are a few butterflies, some caterpillars, electric-blue-green dragonflies, the return of the woodland mosquitoes. I chase them dementedly around the house. We sleep with a net like in India.

The council workers are cutting back the roadside rugosa. We will wait a while to prune ours. It is, though, the time for taking stock. For wandering around the edges, planning next spring’s tranche of lilac trimming. Cutting out self-seeding cherries.

The large larch has overtaken the old silver birch this year. Eclipsed it by close to 2m. Trees planted as saplings a decade ago now outstrip the 70-year-old oak. Behind, the quick red pines, some crazy hazel.

I bike to the further strand to check on the sand martins. They are still here in numbers. Swooping, skimming the waves. The secret sea buckthorn is almost ready. We will return for Ina, for blackberries and apples. For my mum’s best pudding.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com

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