My big rubber workboots left gigantic footprints in the newfallen snow as I trudged slowly to the barn for the evening milking. Giant snowflakes caught in my eyelashes, blurring my sight as I turned my face up to the gray skies. God, milking cows sucked! Milking them in the snow beyond sucked – snow melting off the backs of the cows and plopping on your head just as you squatted down in between them to take the milker off, the freezing fingers, the smell of wet cow… Just then, the milking equipment turned on with a giant roar that broke the complete silence of Christmas Eve. I banged my feet against the wall of the barn to get the snow off before going down the stairs, bundled up in a wool coat three sizes too big and handed down by at least two of my older brothers. Inside the milking room was a huge space heater, which is where I planned to spend as much of the milking as possible. Shuffling over to the heater quickly, I sat on top of it to warm up.
I didn’t know it then, but years later, when I smelled CB I Hate perfume’s Winter 1972 for the first time, I was yanked backward in time to that very night and the smell of snow, wet clothes, warmth and the winter air. And as much as I hated milking cows and snow and being cold, that smell was nothing but comfort and joy.
Midway through the milking that night, wet and tired and miserable, mom sent me Patty to the house to take the baking pumpkin pies out of the oven to cool. Retracing the path back through the deep snow, through the gate, past the washhouse, onto what underneath all that snow was the sidewalk that led to the back door of the old house, I kicked the snow away from the bottom of the wooden screen door to pull it open. Stepping carefuly out of the big rubber boots with buckles on them, I opened the inside door and stepped into the house in my stocking feet. The spices cooking deep into the pies in the oven hit my nose…
Nope, can’t get to CB’s Gingerbread with that one, but the spices in it are close, and the longer it’s on, the better it gets. I had to be really, really patient, though, because the open on it for the first 30 minutes didn’t do much for me. This version is much, much better than the old one, more vanilla, richer. So it’s not quite my Christmas baking smells, it’s close enough to make me happy.
The car pulled up to the house late that night, and five children tumbled out of it, their mother following, their hands full of paper bags, pushing each other down in the snow and laughing and shouting. They raced into the house, jumping through the snow drifts, banging into the house and broke the perfect silence their father, Dick, had been enjoying while they were at the Christmas Eve program at church. And old grudge kept him from going to church with them, but every Christmas Eve, his children would bring church to him, as they ran in with their paper bags full of peanut brittle, candy ribbons, peanuts and milk chocolate stars. They’d gather round where he was on the couch and sort out their Christmas candy, giving Dick all the chocolate-covered cherries, which he loved and they all hated, and the peanuts, which they had no time for because candy is so much better than plain old peanuts. There was the smell of chocolate and cherries and peanuts, perfume from Nadine, the winter night, baked goods in the house, cigarette smoke from Dick. Weaved through all of it was joy and love, however imperfect it was on any other day.
Does Caron Nuit de Noel smell like that? Not really, but it captures the smell of contentment. A melange of smells that somehow blend together into what just feels like joy. Notes of rose, jasmine, ylang ylang, oakmoss, sandalwood and vetiver seem to become more than what they are, equal parts of earth and floral beauty, contrasted against a dark base that pins it solidly to the ground in reality.
Now, I am at a huge disadvantage here because that darn Lee so cleverly did Winter Delices and Theorema, so I had to fall back on memory instead of literary prowess. So including or in addition to the five scents we did for Holidays/winter, what scent best encapsulates winter or your holiday smells?
We’ve picked the Posse Scent Club scents for January, and we are doing… Incense! We couldn’t seem to limit ourselves, so it’s a big set of scents this time: Armani/Prive Bois d’Encens, Bond No. 9 Silver Factory, Etro Messe di Minuit, Comme des Garcons Avignon, Amouage Jubilation XXV Men, Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande, and Biehl Parfumkunstwerke Mark Buxton 03. The entire set of scents are available at 25% off through 12/27 with code possejan.