There is a pepper shaker in a cupboard in our house. It sits just below the teabags, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with from over the years, in amongst the honey, jam, salt and Nutella. Over the last year or so, it has seen less use, migrating slowly to the back of the cupboard, somewhat out of sight. No one has pushed it back there on purpose, other things are just in heavier rotation; honey is the most popular toast topping, salt is used at every meal, people take Vitamin C tablets every day. So it sits there.
It’s been a year. And not just in the heavy-sigh, daily-news-panic kind of way. But almost, quite literally, a calendar year. February 1st to be exact. 365 days of less; less hosting of people for a cup of tea, less complaining about parking ticket inspectors, less boots knitted for new-born babies, less pepper usage.
At the moment, we each cook a day a week. Whatever meal I’m making, and often to the vocal dismay of everyone else in the house, I use pepper. Not just for the sake of it (I actually do enjoy it), but also because it brings it to the front of the cupboard, on display, in regular circulation. However, I’m not patting myself on the back, because I’m not the only one; every time someone remembers a funny story, or a tender moment, or prays for our family, the pepper ambles further forward in the cupboard. Every time we imagine what she would have said, or how she would have complained on a holiday, she’s there again.