Back at the beach house. It’s midsummer: high sun, quiet Scandinavian sea; a sort of paradise, but also disquieting like in a film. Perfection masking fear.
My mother-in-law lives close by. She is 95, recently self-discharged from hospital, the only treatment now tramadol and tea. We bring her to recline on the terrace. Her sick bed, a sun bed; we talk and listen to the reassuring chatter of birds.
I start every day with the short walk to the sea. The lapping of the water slows my shallow breath. Sandalled feet in dewy grass, breathing in the rising sun and rampant wild carrot.
The path is scented sweet and sharp with honeysuckle. The beach is alive with long banks of wild rugosa. I am joined by the joyful sound of a skylark, I search the sky for the anxious flutter of its wings. I walk south along the water to see the sand martins, swooning out of their hole-homes in the sandy cliffs. I pause to watch them swoop and skim the quiet sea.
The plot here is in its summer pomp, swathed in shimmering leaf, framed in tall buttercup and pink campion. There is a 20ft bank of ox-eye daisy lining the window by our kitchen table/work station. It’s all self-sown – we had no hand in it other than to leave them to seed. The wild cherry trees are swimming in colouring fruit. The currants we will leave to birds; no jam this year I fear.
The neighbouring farmers’ fields are alive with poppies and astonishing blue cornflowers. Thigh-high grass turns to hay for Icelandic horses, manes hanging heavy over their eyes. The orchids are back in the buttercup meadow.
Seed packets, bought before London lockdown, lie dormant on the side table, too late to sow now. Many poppies, cornflowers and, of course, nasturtiums call gently of another time.
Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com