I love my pots of thyme. Not least because it is one of those plants that require great effort from me to grow in the Singaporean climate. Thyme hails from the Mediterannean countries. There, thyme tumbles all over the hill, intrudes rudely into prim flowerbeds, and generally can be a nuisance. Here, my pots are tended carefully. When there is sun, all the pots are carried out into the the golden light to bask like lazy cats on the hood of a Rolls Royce. When rain threatens, they are herded indoors so fast that not one drop of rain touches the leaves. They are watered directly to the roots, and the younger thyme seedlings are watered from under the pot so as not to risk any water damage to their delicate leaves. I consider every new thyme leaf put out my own personal achievement.
Pot after pot of thyme have died in my care. So now, I take no chances. And I am not satisfied when they simply survive a skinny and straggly existence. As such, whilst I know I should not fertilize them, I do anyway. So, they don't look at all like thyme should because the thyme that grows wild and strong and free looks lean and muscular, and clambers over rock to colonise poor soils and rich alike. No, my pots of thyme must look fat and lush, with stems and leaves that heap themselves over the pot edge to cascade onto the floor. They're like tough Roman soldiers made fat by good living.
But I like 'em that way.
Thyme is anti-bacterial and and anti-viral. As a teenager, I was given thyme essence on a sugar cube to help clear my stuffy nose. As a university student, I would brew myself thyme tea when I felt a flu coming on. I find its smell comforting and invigorating. It is really so nice to get home, brew a cup of thyme tea, kick off my shoes, sip the warm liquid, and slowly sink into the sofa.
These days, I am a mother and a wife. I use thyme to create the cosy feelings of my youth for my children and my husband. When the north east monsoon blows through the penthouse, my husband develops sinusitis. One mug of hot thyme tea throws it off. And yesterday, I made an infusion for my son, who was also starting to sniffle. It felt good to hear him comment "I am such a lucky boy you know. Because I have a mommy who knows about herbs and can make me feel better just by using plants."
I do hope that like me, they will associate the smell of thyme with feelings of comfort, warmth and general well-being.