We leave Denmark with the leaves falling. The rowan is reddening, berries and branches. The cherry trees turning like in a watercolour painting. Autumn’s gathering on the ground.
Bo, the woodsman, is coming. There are dividing trees to be trimmed. Many haven’t been touched in years. We are negotiating with our neighbour.
They want the wood taken away. We want branches thicker than a forearm kept for next year’s winter fires. We will pay the premium.
Bo is also here, though, to look at another corner of the plot. Most trees will be left alone, some trimmed, some taken. We are looking to gauge light density; to give smaller ones a chance. Bo has an eye for these things.
Some we once bought from a local newspaper ad: all the saplings you can take from a field for 50 kroner (£5). Pines, fir, larch; some are now around 10m tall and too close together. There needs to be an intervention.
Bo reads how green is the leaf on the birch and beech, and makes almost gentle suggestions. The heavy work will be done while we are away. Wood will be left by the shed for sawing and splitting over Christmas. Henri will stack it. She has an architect’s eye.
This is long-term gardening, so slow you adjust to see it. Meanwhile, we work in the meadow. We rake and gather. We leave to seed. We try to address badger damage, and we reseed bare patches. We straighten nesting boxes.
Autumn is undeniable now. Danish cold is coming. Just time to take a last walk along the coast; to gather fat rosehips, sweet blackberries, our pears.
Henri will return soon with the girls, for bike rides and the annual apple festival, and to buy heather honey from the west coast. As we’re about to leave, the first skein of geese arrives, screeching winter on the wing.
Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com
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