My memory dances and shimmies – I can’t trust its movements. In childhood, winter was a time of snow, outdoor adventures and breathing out ghosts over my face. On the walk to school, we’d shiver and stay warm by pulling lengthy icicles from gates and signposts, playing first Musketeers and then later, when I was all of 8, Kenobi vs. Vader. There’d be sheer pools of black ice on the pavement, and skids would end in success – a monumental speeding up across land that was no such thing, with a stumble back to terra firma – or failure – a bruised posterior whose tenderness would be an echoing reminder of the laughter we’d shared in the days to follow.
But these are highlights, moments that my memory has inked in luminous yellow and pink so brightly that the rest of my childhood text disappears under their dayglo brilliance. They’ve become posed portraits of my experience, rather than representative snapshots, and that’s why trust and memory, for me, are awkward companions.
In adulthood, winter disappeared somehow. No real snow, and a handful of frosts throughout the entire period that would melt before the day was halfway through. Instead, winter became a season of browns, umbers and dull greens, soggy underfoot, smelling of mushrooms and old leaves.
This year however, we’ve had more winter than I thought possible now, given our increasingly temperate conditions. Snow storms that have halted journeys. Last week, I had to turn home after my car decided the route I was taking along the road would be made more interesting by diagonal sliding. This weekend, floods have covered much of the countryside surrounding me, so that back routes are cut off and I’m in a land of lakes. I want log cabins to materialise beofre my eyes. They haven’t yet. Most rivers and streams have burst their banks, and the ditchwater dirge of the water is made glorious in the morning by winter’s etching on its surface. And, on a handful of days, the frosts or snow have lasted for more than a day. It’s actually been cold. Cold for here.
But the variability, the shifting from one unexpected element to another – snow storm, flood, snow storm, sunny ice day, mild dullness with lowering cloud, fog, sudden mists – is too much. It makes me yearn for simplicity: perhaps the endlessly democratic sunshine of southern California, or the true winter of the Sami inside the Arctic circle. And this yearning for simplicity is reflected in my daily habits too – what I am eating, what I am wearing (clothes), what I am wearing (scent).
In perfume, I’m generally a lover of the baroque, the bizarre, the scent that leads to olfactory shock, pleasure brought about by the unexpected. For every modern minimalist number in my collection, I have ten heavy syrups of kohl-lidded decadence. Though today, I’m tired of those. I want clean. I want pure. I want constancy.
I’ve been wearing the marvellous Eau de Cartier, a summer favourite. Its parma violet hush is surrounded by the glitter of citrus (a glitter I could live without quite frankly, but fortunately it doesn’t last). If it could preserve only the middle notes as an elongated chord, it would perfectly capture my mood – green violet wood that whispers of its tranquility. Unfortunately, the drydown isn’t such perfection – a perfumey melange of musks and woods that nudges into a powdered thickness when what I want is something ‘like gold to aery thinness beat’. Still, it’s as close as I can get right now.
What do you turn to when simplicity calls? And can you recommend anything else? I’m guessing the new Vanille Galante might just fit the bill.
WINNERS! Expect an email from me, if I don’t hear from you first.
Voleur de Roses stolen by Pantera Lily.
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