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.