The lavender bush leans out from next door’s front garden, brushing against me when I hurry past. In Winter a scratchy sensation. In Summer a trace of fragrant oil. As soon as the stems start to swell into tiny flower buds, I instinctively reach out in passing - stroking and squeezing, sniffing my fingers as I walk away. An unfailing pleasure on the glummest morning. The essential oil's aroma rises even before the petals open. A strong scent on my hands for a couple of weeks now, but only the vaguest mauve mist on the silvery green. Then, yesterday evening, the first springy whoosh of purple-blue blooms.