I blame Kenneth Grahame and The Wind in the Willows for the image of wise Badger etched in my mind. Kindly elder statesman of the woodland world. Friend and adviser to toads and moles. But not here. There is carnage in the summerhouse meadow.
Starburst runs of broken soil, metres long, loop in almost all directions. The ground is spongy as though unsafe. Mole tunnels smashed as the badger hunts the blind. I pile three wheelbarrows with unearthed earth. I am slightly sick. It doesn’t appear to be a fair fight.
The next day I am almost relieved to see two tall new molehills in the meadow (new to me, this feeling). The badger’s moved on to our neighbour’s pristine lawn, scooping off his grass and topsoil in search of food.
Late sand martins skit in hundreds, swooping and erratically crisscrossing the sky, feasting on bugs, gathering strength for the long flight south.
Terns have taken over the small beach by the lake. All facing the sea. A group of stooped herons, like old men, patrol the far bank. The early-summer foal is almost as big as his mother.
Our pears aren’t quite ripe, though they have doubled in size. Tatin will wait, but windfall apples are in the grass. There will be pies. Beach blackberries are turning fast. Plumping up.
The blue flower bed is rampant with wild delphinium, the cornflowers and poppies are hanging on. Bees and bee-adjacent insects swarm the calendula in the herb window box.
Breakfasts are eaten outside, finished with fresh rolls with Henri’s blackcurrant jam, from our fruit and Ina’s recipe. The jam is soft, almost sweet, just the right side of sour. I ride Ina’s bike into town to the bakery, the fishmonger. Autumn calls. Melancholy moves like sea mist.
Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com
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