This is the fourth in my series of seven blog posts, each focused on a particular place or object which provokes a strong olfactory memory.
Most people would associate the scent of fresh basil with the kitchen, Italian pasta dishes, a pot of fragrant green leaves growing upon a sunny windowsill. My scent associations with basil do include the obvious, but also a rather more obscure memory.
I became fascinated by herb lore and hedgewitchery when I was a teenager, buying what books I could and experimenting with oils and candles and potions. I have never been particularly green fingered but the idea of growing my own herbs had a kind of mystical appeal. I got a little pot of basil and placed it on the windowsill in my parent’s kitchen, but refused to let anyone use it for cooking. I bestowed a lot of care on that little plant, watering it, turning it so it would grow evenly all the way round. I would take a leaf to bed with me at night and place it inside the pillowcase, having read somewhere that basil was good for headaches and relaxation.
I don’t really know what I wanted to achieve exactly, I just felt that the vibrancy of this plant might somehow rub off on me. Even now I have a funny little suspicion that basil smells like magic.