We don’t normally enter or leave by the bottom gate to the allotment site, but there was a break-in last week and the lock to the gate we normally use was damaged & is currently permanently locked.
On our way out tonight we noticed how the sycamore by the gate had grown around a roll of plastic bags tucked into what had once been a fork in the tree. Arthur’s old bags, he’d leave them tucked into the fork, with his spade propped against the tree. They were there to collect the following morning on the way in, always more bags than he needed. You’d often see a folding shopping trolley stuck in the fork, too. When we first took over our plot, Arthur gave us some spare cabbage seedlings. After we’d put them in, he asked us if we were planning to cover them. We thought they’d be fine and we didn’t have any netting. He smiled and nodded. A couple of days later we found nothing but green stalks. Arthur had mentioned pigeons, but we didn’t understand quite how destructive a hungry pigeon could be.
Later, he told us why he was on his plot every morning; his wife would shoo him out of the house so she could get on with her cleaning, something she did every day. Arthur explained that she said he got in her way. So Arthur would be on his plot every single day, either working in the greenhouse he’d built to house his grape vine or digging his plot.
Arthur died five or six years ago from motor neurone disease; one year he was always there, the next year his son had to bring him up in a wheelchair, and then he was gone. The allotment became overgrown until someone else took it on; we’d sit on the hillside of our plot looking over to his and watched the feral potatoes grow, two years in a row. It’s curious, but we still talk about Arthur’s plot, even though time has passed and it’s changed hands several times.
To anyone passing, who didn’t know Arthur, the sycamore simply has a curious growth at a point where the fork once was.