I head to the allotment afterwards, planning to water the seedlings I've lined up in trays in the greenhouse, as it's been unusually warm here in Manchester for March, almost like summer. I open the gate and walk up the path, and before I know it I've kicked off my shoes and my jeans are rolled up, feet in some old holey wellies. I'm stripped to my vest with a fork in my hand, digging over a raised bed. It's just too tempting to do a little work, and maybe just maybe, soon I might start to feel better with these light nights. It's been a tough winter. But maybe I can leave work early more often and get stuck in for an hour or two, digging, or tidying up the strawberry patch, or planting some seeds.
I meet a new friend today. Derek is holding onto the allotment gates and my neighbour Jill hollers me over. He's struggling for breath a little, leaning against his stick. He's maybe 80, I'm no good at guessing people's age, but of course I'll give him a lift. I hold open the car door while he struggles into the passenger seat, lifting each leg in, and taking his time, wheezing a little. He tells me he had cardiovascular surgery and he has an illness I don't recognise the name of, so it's not so easy for him to walk. He couldn't quite make it home from the shops, and a neighbour carries his shopping bag, while I lean over to fasten his seatbelt because it's awkward to reach, and I let him try but he can't quite get it fastened. He asks which is my allotment, and he is smiling as I show him. He says that was his allotment, and his dad's allotment before that. Me and Derek drive the 200 yards round the corner to his house and he struggles out again. I invite him to come to his old plot any time, and tell him I've always got spare veg.
I dig again, and another hour passes, and I don't realise it's getting late until my belly grumbles for food. These lighter nights are just heaven. I grab some stalks of rhubarb to stew for my pudding and smile all the time I drive home.
There are many things to be grateful for, but I don't always see them. Some days are darker than others and it's more difficult to see what it's all for. Depression can be very pervasive and since November it's been different kinds of hard.
But today, everything is good. I have a full belly, a holiday to look forward to, part-time hours after this week, lots of plans with friends, and a whole summer of light nights where I can head to the allotment and dig and watch everything grow.