I take the pot from the windowsill and carefully cut the last green stems, right at the earth, with the kitchen scissors. There aren’t many – this same small pot has lasted for months but now it is time for it to give up its last harvest.
I put the sprigs into the small blender bowl. Add pine nuts from the stash in an old jam jar at the back of the cupboard – too many for the quantity of basil but I want there to be enough pesto for my helping of pasta. Two small cloves of garlic, and then a third because the first two were so small. I have no parmesan. “Value” cheddar will have to do. Grind in lots of pepper. Drizzle olive oil. Blend, add more oil, blend again.
This morning I fried sausages, eggs, bacon, tomatoes and potatoes at the behest of the birthday boy for his breakfast. Later, in the park, we met with his friends and mine to share cake. “Eight years”, said one, in astonishment. “Eight years ago today”. This afternoon they went for the other half of the birthday, for the “big” presents, the trip to the cinema, the sweet things.
I boil water for the spaghetti and have a protracted inner struggle on the subject of wine. There is one bottle left in the house. Should I open it? If I do will I drink all of it? The pasta is nearly cooked before I lose the struggle and pull the cork, pouring out a single glass but into a receptacle so huge there’s not much more than two thirds left in the bottle.
I mix the pesto into the spaghetti in the bowl rather than letting it heat through in the saucepan on the drained pasta. I don’t want to lose even the small amount that would stick to the side of the pan. I take the bowl and the glass to the sitting room.
This is where, eight years and half a day ago, secondborn greeted the world. Right where my feet are, although there was of course a builders’ plastic dust-sheet protecting my great-aunt’s Persian rug during the process.
Maybe next year I will have tackled the garden, currently overrun with brambles. Maybe I shall plant basil and parsley and mint and coriander, chives and thyme, next to the rampant and untended rosemary bush. Maybe.