Daphnes and contrasts

Smelling Daphnes for the first time in May is the single greatest pleasure I have in my life that comes around reliably every year.  I got my first daphne right after my first son was born, when I was living in the first house I bought with my future ex-husband No. 2.   I picked it up at the botanical gardens annual sale because they marked it as “grows well in Colorado.”  I wasn’t much of a gardener at that point, and I’m thinking, yes!  Easy to grow here works.

A couple of years after I planted it, I was walking up my front sidewalk, and this smell assaulted my nose – one of the prettiest, liting smells I’ve ever experienced.  Unexpected, I had no idea daphnes smelled, and it took me a couple of days to verify that it was the daphne.  During its blooming period, right along with that gorgeous scent was this otherness – bitter, a little fecal. It wasn’t always there, sometimes it was just the beautiful part. It’s deeply unpleasant and disturbing.

And I don’t care.  It is the wide chasm between the two – the sweet and the obscene – that I love as they stand together in this perfect tension.  Much of the time we spend our life avoiding that which is not lovely, even though it must exist to have the other. All the old sayings are true – you must have evil to know good; dark must exist to know light; and joy can only be known if you know its opposite, pain and despair.  It is natural to want to pay attention to the things that are pretty, they capture us, there is nothing to hate there. But when you let sweet and obscene lay next to each other, not preferring one or the other, just letting them take up the same space, that is when you can experience both completely.  That is when I experience  life fully.

Recently I smelled a couple of the new Atelier Colognes, Orange Sanguine and Bois Blonds – they are both lovely and bright and easy to wear, and I highly recommend them during the summer for a light go-to scent that you will appreciate and not wish you had worn something different.  But March sent out a Facebook update last night about Amaranthine and some other gigantic white floral she had on in the East Coast heat, and I kinda recoiled at first. Then I dug out my Penhaligon’s Amaranthine, which I’ve reviewed before as a big, interesting love, sprayed it on, and swooned again.

It is little points of joy piercing the dark gutter it came from.  Or, as my son Harry says, “look at me skank.”

This morning, when I got back home after my 6a yoga class, I opened my truck door, stepped out, and the daphne, which had been blooming for about a week, had unfurled its scent.  Life begins again.

So let’s do a giveaway. I was hopeful for a minute that I was actuallly going to be able to get into Posse the normal way. It let me log into our dashboard to start posting, but then when I tried to save, it gave me the familiar “can’t find this” error, so I can’t play with you in comments again. 🙁  Tell me what scent – occurring in nature or from a bottle – that makes you feel closest to life, and I’ll give away samples of the two Ateliers mentioned and Amaranthine.

90 Comments

  1. For me that would be the smell of tomatoes on the vine when you put your nose right up them and inhale. Mmm, summer is coming at last 😀

  2. I could say “babies” or “puppies” and both would be close to the truth, but I’m going to say something equally, well, trite. And that is: the sea.

    I don’t mean the ocean waves and salty breezes as experienced from a beach or the top of a cliff, I mean the smell of the ocean when it is all around you as you lie on your back on the deck of a sailboat, gliding along over mysterious depths, teaming with life, both strange and beautiful, and the sun and sky above and all around, and nothing on the horizon in any direction for as far as the eye can see.

    THAT smell.

  3. Closest to life? Pick just one? I’d say the ocean without doubt… that briny smell, preferably dirtied up with little seaweed or the funky smell of marsh. If I’m lucky, and the wind is blowing just right, I can smell it in my neighborhood. More often I can smell it just outside my office. It is the reason I need to live somewhat near a coast.

    I’d love to be in the draw to try the Bois Blonds, but I’ve tried the other two, so feel free to spread the love if you want to do a split giveaway.

  4. Ahhh this is going to be so easy and I love to tell people about it. Please forgive my rambling beforehand.
    I love to run. I mean to point of uncomfortable, “Why am I doing this, this almost sucks, really hurts !” kind of run.
    But I can’t do my runs in my neighborhood on a street, on a treadmill or track. I have really bad rhuematoid arthritis and also fibromalgia. I’ve only been diagnosed for about a year but have suffered from it since I was 26. I’m 34 now.
    It got to the point that without the meds I have now, it took me hours to get my day started, it was chronic pain all the time, I knew something was wrong but with no insurance couldn’t know for sure. My body ravaged itself. It attacked me such brutality I sometimes felt like I would die. My oldest girl would wake up before school and come to my bed and massage my hands, arms, legs and feet to get the blood going. She would draw my bath, and get me in and out of it. She would wash my hair and get me dressed. She was 14.
    After several Advils and hours later , I would workout. Pilates, yoga, strength training, what ever my body could handle that day.
    Well one day I went for a drive and came across what I would discover as my saving grace. I found Lord’s Hill. It’s a regional park of about sixteen hundred acres of forest. It’s a killer horse trail. You can ride mountain bkies on it too and many people hike it. There are hills and meadows and beauty everywhere. I started just walking it. I built up to it. My ankles and knees can somehow take the give of the ground much easier than anything else.
    Now I run my heart out almost every day.
    Just my breath, the sound of my feet hitting the dirt and my thoughts. But my thoughts are always the loudest.
    I pray, I cry up there. I feel God around me so close. He brings me butterflies and dragonfles in the summer, technicolor colored leaves in the fall, the hush of the fallen snow, and now another tender spring, where everything wakes up and beckons me to keep it close.
    I push myself long and far and run in what has now become my beloved church. It kept me going. Nature all around me in all seasons.
    I have been doing it for three years now and finally have insurance and proper medication. But finding my forest helped me get through that.
    And can I just finally get around to saying that all of the glorious smells that surround me in all kinds of weather.

    Ancient earth on a rainy day and the greenes of Evergreens. Bright ferns , skunk cabbage by the ponds, sweet smelling grass drying in the sun. Dodging “road apples” left behind by the musty horses and their trail of loamy scent.
    It is wondrous and smells like heaven.
    Not really any flowers but thats ok with me.
    The smells in the forest wrap around me and hold me dear.Cause when your breathing hard out there you can taste what your smelling and thats the most precious scent to me.

    • Wow. Really.

      Who can beat that, and who would even try? I’m glad you’ve found some relief from your medical ordeal.

      • Thanks Joe..
        I am too.
        It felt good to share.
        🙂

        • Musette,

          Can we be ‘friends’??
          I’m telling you ,
          I feel your good energy even through the damn computer!:)
          My gage at finding ‘kindred spirits’ is pretty well established.(*)
          Have a happy Friday.

    • That sounds like a beauatiful place. I have one too. I live in an historic town. There is a small cemetery, centuries old. From what I can tell, from the small gravestones, there seems to be mostly very small children, buried there. I thought it was sad at first. Now, I go to enjoy the peace, the very old trees that shade you from the summer’s heat, and the different smells that each season brings (even the ginkgo!). I love being in there.

  5. SL’s Sa Majesté la Rose, the smell of a not yet blooming rose reminds me that the doldrums of winter are finally coming to an end. Please enter me into the drawing as well.

  6. My same old answer: wild honeysuckle, wild roses, damp earth and wet rocks on a hot spring night. You don’t forget that scent.

  7. This is a hard one because I live in Southern California with citrus trees and 30 year old gardenia bushes in my yard. And, then there’s all those beautiful smelling roses growing beside them. The most sensual poignant, alive, curl your toes ahhhhh has to be the cloud of orange blossom aroma that suddenly hits me when I’m least expecting it. It stops me right there commanding me to relax and inhale deeply. Yes orange blossoms trump the gardenias and roses in their glory.:):)

  8. P.S. Love those other comments. I can smell it all.

  9. Kitty fur, warm from a sunlit window’s nap.

    Rain admixed with asphalt evaporating after a summer shower.

    Wax leaf ligustrum blossoms (Spring! in Texas). New mown grass.

    Be well.

  10. I do love the scent of Spring. I sniff every flower that I come across. And, during these few weeks, the California Sycamore trees bloom in my neck of the woods. I drive home with the windows open and the scent is like blossoms of honey. It is delicious….I try to inhale as much as I can before they are all gone.

  11. Not sure if I really should say it, but so many fragrances out there try to replicate it or at least allude to it….the smell of, ahem, intimacy. :”>

    And tuberose. A bouquet, fresh and cold from the florist’s case in August. Perfection.

  12. To echo the sentiment somebody uttered earlier: only one?

    Right now: Zurich in spring. Wisteria, wild garlic, lilac and rain.

    Later this (and every) year: Elderflower. Disgusting and heartbreakingly lovely at the same time, this scent will stop me in my tracks, make me miss the bus, make me late for my date, because I have to inhale as much of it as I can.

    Always: Henna on skin. Henna on hair. Henna powder (henna flower, I’m told, smells wonderful, but I haven’t had the privilege as yet). But mostly henna on skin. I used to do henna “tattoos” at fairs and parties for a few years and usually tried new designs on my left hand. I’d keep smelling it until the very last speck of blood red had disappeared from my skin weeks later, I loved that earthy, citrussy, really, really special scent so much. (OK – I’d also like a perfume combining all the smells of henna. I’d call it Tamrhenna, henna flower).

    And then: Rotting leaves, moss and wet earth in late February (hello, patchouli!)with the promise of new growth woven into it. Tea. Sticky resin on my fingers when I’ve picked up a piece of wood. Spices. Cutting fresh herbs. Marigolds. Tomato vines. To name but a few….

  13. Right now, the leaves of the tomato plants I’m so proud of growing from seed. Later in the summer, their sun-warmed fruits, picked fresh from the vine.
    Also, always the famous Small. She can get pretty skanky-smelling, when she’s been running round getting sweaty and filthy, but she always smells good.

    A perfume that makes me feel similarly full of joy and life is Dzing! For me, it’s the smell of horses and stables, from sweaty saddles to dung and the warm horse in between. And I do love horses.

    • Dzing is soooo close to the smell of the Keeneland horse sales (Lex., Ky.) that I just couldn’t wear it! It smelled *exactly* like my skin and clothes smell when I come home from a long day out there – horses, hay and straw, outdoors and even the disinfectant that they spray the back walking ring down with!

  14. Hot summer woods. Douglas firs in Oregon, sap bubbling, needles underfoot. Filles en Aiguilles comes closest to bringing me back :d/

    • That’s my other one, Louise. I love that smell and sensation.

    • Oh, yeah, there’s nothing like a Doug fir! Just saying the words takes me back to playing at Cavitt Creek (just outside of Roseburg) on hot summer days of my childhood. Bliss.

  15. I just spent all night sitting in my friend’s hot tub out on the back porch, and wafting in the air was the most amazing lilac scent. All I had to do was inhale and it was everywhere. That’s one thing I love about spring- you just smell “flowers” everywhere on the breeze. Driving in the car with the windows down, you’re greeted with perfume in the air. Not to mention the romance going on tonight and the fantastic conversation…it was all pretty heavenly. Also, the irises are in bloom, and I can’t resist sticking my nose into one every time I enter or leave the house.

    And put me in for the Amaranthine! It’s high time I smell this lady.

  16. there are so many scents that just make me feel so good…
    in random order:

    -My husband’s neck and hands
    -gardenias in bloom (ok, this should be first)
    -the countryside (in every season but especially in summer) near the town where I was born
    -Roses, but not the variety that smell like, ahem, roses, but the wondrous ones that smelle like roses+citruses+honey+other magic notes…
    – my favorites tuberose perfumes: dreams, sex and confort all in the same bottle, all at once.:x

    (p.s. I don’t wish to enter in the draw!)

  17. Hi Patty! Sorry comments aren’t working for you. Hope someone can figure out how to fix it!

    Funny that though I’m crazy about perfume, I don’t necessarily associate “being alive” with scents. I’m sitting here, trying to think of scents that capture that essence, and can’t think of a darned thing! Perhaps because it’s too early in the morning. Maybe coffee???? Ha!!!

    • Karin – I thought the same thing this a.m., but it is now after lunch and while I can think of many wonderful scents that I love, I still can’t really think of anything that I would label as “being alive”. But I’m enjoying reading everyone else’s comments.

  18. I live in the city now but grew up in farm country. This past weekend I drove up to my hometown and chose to drive through an area with a large Amish community. The weather was beautiful and scents blowing into the open car windows were so vivid and renewing. Freshly plowed earth, large stands of blooming lilacs, cut grass, horses and cows with their babies supplying lots of eau de manure (not a bad smell if you grew up in farm country). It had rained the previous night, so it all had that wet undercurrent. Amazing life affirming scents- combining, swirling and separating again. Best yet, I get to make the drive again this weekend!

  19. Dirt and freshwater.

    Moist, humusy dirt, the kind that earthworms love to crawl in, which yes, supports the entire life cycle.

    Freshwater, which you usually can’t smell exactly, but which you identify by the way it changes the other smells as you approach. Focuses everything through a prism…including the other smell I’ll throw in, a temperate forest, that mixes conifers and deciduous trees with brambly and other greenery beneath.

    There are many smells that make me feel alive, which make me feel connected to life, which can make me tear up over life, but those are the ones that hit to my core when it comes to life itself.

  20. The first whiff of warm, wet, dirt in the spring + my husband’s sweat (together, they’re the smell of holes being dug for me- does it get any better?) Bottle that, and I’d love it.

    Failing that, I would like to smell the Amaranthine…

  21. Wow. That’s a tough question.

    I think that the reason I like perfume in general is that it brings me back to my body (and out of my busy, whining, overheated, anxious brain). It brings me back to the sensory level of my existence. I am hit particularly hard by several of my perfumes– Week-end a Deauville, Un Coeur en Mai, and Tea for Two come to mind. But also, I just received a bottle of Vintage Cuir de Russie, and it too transported me into my body. This probably sounds like a typo, because we think of perfume as transporting us to another place, and not as grounding us stronger in the moment. But I am so often thinking of other things, other places, other worries that I hardly ever stop and experience the moment that I am currently living in.

    So maybe orange blossom is the smell that brings me closest to life? (And also, all of these have a slight edge to them that I don’t like, which somehow makes them even more perfect. They’re not simply pretty; they’re complex and beautiful.)

    • gator grad, your observation about perfume bringing you back to your body is so perfect! ^:)^ I agree with you on orange blossom, too. I lucked into some L’Artisan 2007 orange blossom and smelling that glorious scent always makes me happy!

  22. The smell of bread reconnects me with life. Fresh porcini mushrooms and truffles are also up there.
    Perfume-wise, it’s got to be MdO Carnation.
    Also my husband wearing Al Oudh is pretty revitalizing >:)

  23. Tough to choose between the smell in the air on a spring morning or clothes line dried in the sun (especially in New Mexico for some reason). But don’t necessarily want to smell either of them ON me!

  24. The earthy, windy, waxy smell of my sons’ heads after they’ve been playing outside is a deep, deep pleasure. I first noticed it on my younger brother as we were growing up, and it seems I only find it on little boys – my daughter’s head never had that smell, and my older son smells less of it as he ages (he’s 11 now). It’a always a reminder of the Now – play now, live now, hug now.

    The smell of dry leaves in the autumn is a wonderful reminder of the Past – what’s done is done. Turn it over, let it rest, plant something new in it.

    The smell of blooming black locust trees is a harbinger of the Future, and a reminder to plan for encountering joy.

    • Those babies are blooming profusely here now, and the air smells wonderful.

      Beautifully said Mals.

  25. My garden is loaded with fragrant flowers – roses, lilies, iris, honeysuckle, etc. And I wear floral fragrances nearly every day of the year. But…as much as I need florals, I can’t say they connect me to life itself, as much as to other, more specific facets of existence.

    The smell of garlic hitting the pan gives me such a charge that I (only half-jokingly) say to my kids, “garlic is life.”

    But two smells strike at the core of life for me in a way that is almost scary – ambergris and honey. Ambergris is like some magical, dangerous water that one would willingly drown oneself in to get to the source of life itself. And honey (especially the real thing) has a mysterious and almost sickening pull – like it could actually drive you mad if you let it get total control of you. Maybe I’m just nuts already…lol…but that’s how I feel about those smells – like they come from somewhere no one is supposed to see, and they could grab hold of you and not let you go.

    No need to enter me in the draw. I adore Amaranthine, but have a nice decant, and would love for someone else to have a try!

  26. I’d have to say Osmanthus – coming from a Chinese family, this flower is a part of my childhood both in the gardens in Taiwan and in my desserts! We sprinkle the dried, yellow flowers over sweet soups, and it is lovely as the fragrance steams up to your face. My aunt has a tree that is mindblowingly fragrant – but in a gentle way! – when it blooms.

  27. Hrm. If I had to pick just one thing, I’d say the smell of my son’s clean hair after he’s been playing in the sunshine.

  28. Walking into the barn, rich smell of worn leather, hay, manure, breathing in the horsey scents, pine sap pulled off my fir trees and rolled between my fingers, inhaling my gardenia, laying on the beach, nose dug into a damp salty sea moistened towel, mincing garlic and bringing my fingers to my nose, digging into deep rich earth as I garden, midnight Harley rides in spring, face pressed into leather, all the smells ripping open my senses, clover, new mown grass, freshly plowed fields, whatever scent ‘he’ is wearing wafting back to me. I love to press my face into tree bark. Last week a friend brought me a bag of morel mushrooms he’d just dug out of his yard which I inhaled deeply before cooking-divine. And lastly, I collect/dig gems on a serious level and the smell of crystalline is addictive.
    CB Violet Empire comes close to earth/flower in a bottle.
    Patty, I’m sorry you can’t comment. I’m now gonna get me some daphne.

  29. The smell of my childrens’ hair–it’s sort of burnt lanolin smell. Their necks when they were little–now of course they won’t let me smell their necks. Clean, well-kept horses. The pittisporum plants blooming around the neighborhood. The chihuahua, after he has been playing in the sunshine. And coffee–fresh and lots of it, especially when the smell wafts to my nose and I am still half asleep, and know that my husband is lovingly bringing me a mug.

  30. Wanted to add that the technical term for the scent emanating from certain crystals is crystalline musk, a pungent, musky earth smell.
    Tamara, your post made me teary eyed-beautiful!

  31. Reading all these posts right now make me so sad because I can’t smell A THING!!! I’ve had a sinus problem for one full week now and completely lost my sense of taste and (horrors) smell since Monday. It is making me insane, especially since I just received a packet of samples from LS and just look at them lovingly, unable to sniff. I have a panic attack almost everyday thinking of what I’m missing out on smelling. It is torture but I know that once my sense of smell returns, I will never take it for granted again, ever.
    The smells that make me feel closest to life are : Demeter’s Dirt, hot dogs on the grill, burning leaves, wet boardwalk, and cat fur after lying in the sun.

  32. I love the smell of Coppertone and the briny, stinky smell of tidal pools. That smell takes me back to my favorite childhood memories of being at the beach with my family.

    • That is a wonderful mixture. Coppertone in itself is the most evocative scents for me, though associated more strongly with swimming pools.

      • “one of the most evocative” is what I should have typed.

  33. Whew! I’m relieved that few people managed to keep it to just one scent. Here is my Top 5 from nature:

    • pine forest after a summer rain
    • lily of the valley (any day now)
    • lilacs (any minute now)
    • wet wood in an old school sauna
    • white freesia (surprise, surprise)

  34. Oh, this was such a lovely thread to wake up to this morning. The comments have transported me all over the place, and I love the sensitivity to nature, places, sensations – life!

    I related to so much: Louise’s Douglas Firs in the Pacific Northwest (and cedars! and cottonwoods in the spring, so sweet and green), Patty’s daphne (P, please include me in the draw) and similar spring blooms that combine freshness and something compellingly rank, rain on hot stones or pavement after weeks of scorching summer sunshine, the ocean (throw in a little creosote), garlic, freshly ground coffee, soil and grass (I just flopped on the field at Jericho Park yesterday, which was carpeted by a zillion little white flowers, and inhaled that loamy/galbanum-green richness), the smell of our local Japanese restaurant’s robata grill wafting down the street — and our own steaks on the barbie in the summertime . . . all of it just bliss.

    But what smells most like life to me, the most vital and heartbreaking thing, is to hold my dear little purple budgie Lulu, exhale into her neck feathers, and then inhale deeply. Oh, the smell of the clean, warm damp feathers of a healthy little 34-gram bird: heaven.

    • That’s amazing, years ago I noticed my little pied cockatiel female had a wonderful warm waxy smell, so unexpected….the male doesn’t!

  35. It’s amazing and quite beautiful reading everyone’s ideas of “smells that bring you closer to life”. For me, nothing brings me closer to life then the smell of my 7 year old black Lab, Gypsy. As much as I try to wash the skanky-ness out of her every other week (she actually doesn’t mind baths and believe it or not, prefers coconut-scented shampoos!!!!), inevitably she eventually smells musky, salty, sweet and just a bit like cheese…..I realize that may sound a bit disgusting, but nothing makes me feel happier or closer to life then smelling her fur as she nuzzles against me when I come home from work. Ahhhh….it makes me smile just thinking about it.

  36. Love this poll. Mine are tomato leaves, the smell of the air right before a thunder storm and the smell of the wet pavement after, dried fall leaves on the wet ground, a wood burning fireplace, lilacs in the night air, the smell of brewing coffee while taking a morning walk, a freshly struck match, my dog’s paws. I don’t need to be entered in the drawing. I have and love Amaranthine and I am wearing it today.

  37. Dirt. The earth when you kneel down and bring your nose right up close to it, particularly in spring when you breathe in the scent of cold as well as soil.

  38. For me it’s the smell that lingers after a summer storm – the wet earth, the steaming concrete, the rain puddles left behind. It’s a smell that reminds me of playing in the rain with my sisters – an activity that we looked forward to every spring as we were growing up. It was one of the few times that we were allowed to get wet, muddy and wild and didn’t have to act like “young ladies”! In short, it’s a smell that represents a sort of freedom to me.

    I’m really intrigued by the Orange Sanguine – wonder how it compares to my recent fave Soivohle Moroccan Orange? Please enter me in the drawing.

  39. I grew up on a dairy farm in upstate NY with lots of cows, cows, cows. All that was gone by the time I was 14. Now, when I smell cow manure, I’m a kid again.
    Please enter me in the drawing.

  40. The “one” scent? For me there are probably several, but here are two very important:

    Orange blossom wafting from Central Valley groves on warm summer night air.

    Cool moist sea air mixed with creosote and a whiff of rotting seaweed– it simultaneously wakes me up and soothes me with a sense of coming home (native of San Francisco).

  41. For me, it would be piney woods and a freshwater lake nearby – reminding me of summer vacations long ago, and a connection to a world that Does Not Have Computers, for a little while!

  42. The smell of rain-moistened, hot asphalt. It’s the most grounding scent in the world.

    And for the exaltation side, the smell of hot hay, deerstongue, and wild anise in the sun. Heavenly.

  43. The spicy, pungent scent of California Bay Laurel that permeates the redwood forests in Santa Cruz and the SF Bay Area. Every time I see a Bay Tree, I pick a leaf and crush it between my fingers, and it reminds me once and again of why I love living here….

    • How could I forget this one, too? I was a four-year-old in Los Altos, CA (south of SF down a meandering two-lane highway through apricot orchards in those days – now, like, a 20-lane mega-expressway). When I smelled PG’s Bois Blond for the first time, I was right back THERE again the second I inhaled. My charge card hit the counter before I was finished exhaling.

      • My cousins lived in Los Altos in those days! We always took the hilly route from Pacifica– how well I remember the lovely drive down Skyline Blvd and Canada Rd, then through the orchards. . .

    • nina, I visited Muir Woods on a brief trip to San Francisco, and just adored the scent. I assumed it was the redwood trees – are you saying that’s really the laurel?

      • Yes, it was the Bay Laurel (and isn’t the Muir Woods one of the most glorious places on earth?). The Bay trees are much smaller and grow below the redwoods. Their leaves literally are “Bay Leaves,” the herb (like what you buy in the jar). The heat of the sun really seems to bring out their fragrance. Every visitor I take hiking gets my Bay Leaf speech and demonstration. (Of course the redwoods have a scent, too, but not as strong as the Bay trees.)

  44. Lilacs.
    Worn leather purse.
    Smell of dirt, after evening showers on a warm summer day.

  45. Right now – inside my greenhouse.

    Your daphnes seem to bloom – and smell different – to daphnes over here…:-?

    • My dream-a greenhouse. My best friends growing up were twins, their mom owned a greenhouse/floral shop. I spent all my growing up years wandering down the aisles of the
      greenhouse, sniffing and inhaling.

  46. For me it has always been the smell of the wind when a summer storm is rolling in (when the thunder is rumbling and just before the sky explodes with rain) and the wind is blowing through the leaves of the trees. You can smell the rain, and the ozone, and electricty, and the green of the leaves. That scent makes me feel joy, and excitement, and a tinge of melancholy and nostalgia, all at once, and that mix of emotions really is the essence of life to me.

    Then again, warm sun-baked kitty fur is a close second for me too, especially if its black kitty fur. 🙂 Thanks everyone for the marvelous entries, such a joy to read today! And please enter me in the draw Patty!

  47. Freshly-watered lawn makes me feel closest to life — specifically suburban life.

  48. Hmmmm, a very interesting question. Closest to life. I guess I’d have to say the smell of the ground thawing and things getting green in spring would be one of them. That smell always makes me feel hopeful and alive. And the other is probably the smell of the fur on my dog’s face when I give him a face-nuzzle. Clean puppy-scent.

    I have my fingers crossed for the draw, but for now I’m going to go nuzzle my dog and then go smell the outdoors. 😉

  49. Wow, I can’t pick just one! Here are some majors though:

    Lilacs after a rain, tomato leaves, basil growing in the sun with its fragrant oil glistening on the leaves, tall trumpet lilies in the twilight throwing off perfume like it was smoke, warm horseflesh, Jean Patou Vacances perfume, the smell of lake water in high summer, hay drying in a field and yes, DAPHNE! :d

  50. Very hard question. I thought about it all day. I’m thrilled about the poetry in so many responses here. I wracked my brains for a fragrance I had that had an element (a samsara element?)of life meets death meets life again and could think of not a one so mysterious.
    So in the natural world I’m allied with the ocean people. There is very particular smell in certain weather (perhaps low pressure fronts?) that is utterly intoxicating and bewitching…and damp, cedar, driftwood, seaweed, salt super-oxygenated that occurs…where the vapours blowing a few feet off the sea are like a concentrated elixir of life.

    ahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

    Cheryl

  51. That’s a tough one but I think it’d be freshly cut grass for me. But yesterday I got to play in piles of dried leaves with my kids. The smell was heavenly. It’s been a long time since I felt so alive.

    Please enter me in the draw 🙂

  52. Out of the bottle, at the moment, Voleur de Roses or N. Morris’ Midnight Forest.

  53. My son’s unwashed hair. I used to bury my face into it when we read books together on the couch when he was little, but now he’s 7 and is surly and wants his space. So I only get to smell his sweet hair when I kiss him on the head before bed.

  54. Sycamore trees near the river, it smells like my childhood. And
    gingerbread.

  55. The smell of burning leaves on a cool, dark autumn day with winter just around the corner

  56. Too many smells to choose just one but on the West Coast it’s the smell of eucalyptus, just before a rainstorm.

    Over here, it’s the smell of line-dried sheets – that is such a comforting smell.

    Don’t enter me in the draw, though – I’ve already tested.

    beautiful post, btw. Just lovely.

    xoxo >-)

  57. At the beach, I love the contrast between nature: the salty tang of an ocean breeze, seaweed, briny water and then I might get a whiff of the blatantly artificial like suntan lotion, or snow cone flavor syrup or cotton candy. That’s a great combo to me.

    Other great ones that have already been mentioned: children’s heads when they’ve been outside running, playing and sweating a little bit. Then they crawl up in your lap before their bath, and smell a bit sweet and sweaty. Also, the great smell of a warm kitty cat who has been basking in the sun.

    Please enter me in the drawing. I’m curious about the scents mentioned; haven’t tried any of them yet. Thanks.

  58. Wow an overload of wonderful descriptions here, making me think yes yes yes as I read each one….
    I think perhaps the most poignantly powerful smell that is at the top of my mind though is simply the wafting of night-scented flowers like datura and white cestrum on a warm summer breeze, outside, in the dark; but its SO hard to choose!

  59. I live in a city, and whenever I can get a bit farther out and smell cleaner air – purified by vegetation and without the auto exhaust – that’s the scent of life!

    I’ve already sample Amaranthine but would love to try either Atelier.

    Hope you get your internet fixed and can rejoin us soon!

  60. That acrid, smoky oxonic smell the wheels and engines of trains exude. I love that smell.

    • …and that would be ozonic, not oxonic. Oh, well.

  61. I love the smell of earth baking in the hot sun — sadly, as I spend more and more time indoors and in an office these days I smell it only rarely anymore.

    I’d love to try Amaranthine and the Ateliers. Thank you.

  62. Lilac, absolutely, without a doubt. Here in eastern Canada there is a mad abundance of lilac, which seems to thrive on the cold winters, and when it blooms, usually in late May or early June, it’s a sure sign that spring has hit a fever pitch and summer is just around the corner. I have never lived anywhere that there weren’t at least a half-dozen lilac bushes within eyeshot, and so every spring of my life the air has always been threaded and beribboned with that magical perfume.

    Unfortunately, they’ve been blooming a bit earlier than usual these last few years, and I’m out of the country for the last two weeks of May and the first week of June, so I bet I’m going to miss it all. Do they have lilac in England?

  63. Fresh cut grass – you can smell it even in the middle of the city and it always serves as a reminder for me to slow down and appreciate the world and my life for a moment. 😉

    Lovely post, P! Please enter me in the draw.

    Thanks!

  64. This is neither natural nor even very pretty, but: waking up in a strange city. Stepping outside your hotel and smelling pavement, coffee vendors, bakeries, women’s perfume, men’s aftershave, car exhaust, busses or streetcars or trains you’ve never ridden before, and that certain something that makes every city smell different. I always think, “Wow, people LIVE here (New York, Rome, Paris, wherever).”

    • That’s exciting! Yes, it does make one feel alive, to be in a new place.

Comments are closed.