Smokin’ Grass

By Anita

(hey there everyone — we’ll be putting our names up here so you know who’s posting)

August in these parts – what a mess – even the kids have lost their zest for playing outside.  It’s  as if they are beginning to adjust their internal thermometers to Classroom temps – out here there are few Summer Maths/Language Camps or internships – no, out here it’s like a timewarp, with kids riding their bikes and fishing and just hanging out all summer they’re ready to get back to a routine, even as they crab about it.

So why am I going on about kids? who knows? – I just got off on a tangent, though it does tie into the transitional tone I’m aiming for (stick with me –  I’m going somewhere with this).  Oh, yes.  Transition.  School?  August.    I dunno about you but when I was a girl, in Catholic school, you only got the first 1 or 2 days (and the last few days) of the school year to wear civilian clothes – and we were all so desperate to show our New Fall Togs – imagine the horror of 20 7th grade girls in wool turtlenecks and those faux kilts (with the giant pins, remember those?) – in a non-AC classroom.  In Illinois.  In August.  Oh, the humanity.

Right now my inner 7th grader is aching to wear some fall scents  but it’s not happening.  It’s still too hot during the day and it’s All Damp 24/7, raining every other day, out of nowhere, with the gale-force winds and downed trees, then blistering sunshine.   Then rain.  Then the amphibians come out.  Then it’s surface-of-the-sun hot again.  Just weird.  But still damp – all the time.  No matter if it’s 58F @ 3am (bliss!) or 90F at noon – it’s soaking wet, the kind  where you have to throw the sheets in the dryer before you go to bed.  And everything I put on  just smells weird, like maybe I’m personally mildewed – except Vetiver.   But not the ‘pretty’ vetiver (think Guerlain and Tom Ford’s lovely Grey Vetiver  ).  No, I’m talkin’ VETIVERS – the ones  that are so viscous they come out of the bottle like Alaga syrup.  I think it was Carter who busted me out of my vetiver complacency via Turtle Vetiver, which started me on the path.  Because I live in a very damp house (that may have an actual cistern(ew) under part of it) I had no problem believing that Isabelle Doyen could create a vetiver that smells like turtles – after all, my house smells like frogs and there are toads in the bushes and snails on the siding after a rainstorm and the thought of the cistern freaks me out but I digress…  Turtle Vetiver  is beautiful on a hot summer day and it does not smell like turtles but it’s wrong for this sodden, froggy, transitional weather –  in Turtle Vetiver the root is vaguely damp and it amps into something ozonic .  I was looking for those really crackly, smoky dry vets that make you wonder if somebody’s sneaking a toke in the backyard.     The best example is an essential oil from Australia that has to be diluted in jojoba,  so it doesn’t peel the skin off your wrist.  Beautiful in a burner, though.    But Carol (WAFT by Carol) sent me a couple of Eden Botanicals that are so strong they transcend perfumery and speak directly to the damp – and beat it BACK!    Heck, I don’t know whether to wear this stuff or roll it up and smoke it!

If  you love Vetiver and it’s damp where you live, I urge you to try these.  If you hate vetiver you might as well try them, too, just to see what Vetiver freaks are all on about – the Organic Vetiver is a bit more wearable, I think, though I prefer the Surinam Vetiver – it came charging out of the little vial with its jaws snapping, like one of those awful SyFy alligators.  Either (or both) are perfect to carry through this weird, wet time of year.  If it’s dry and hot where you are, though,  beware – they might just spontaneously combust!

Vetiver Freaks:  what are your faves? Vetiver Haters:  Why No love?

ps.  Hey, Natalie!  PLEASE forgive me – you sent a note via ‘contact us’.  Patty sent it to me.   I lost it (I’m a loser) –  I can’t torture Patty to go through the 5000 emails to resend, I just can’t.  Would you please click on my name (I’ll be replying to any comments that come up) and send me your info again?  I need to get the 6T and Cordovan Rose out to you!

photo:  alligator snapping turtle/

Eden Botanicals:  I already told you, Big Brother.  Read the post! 🙂

  • Anna says:

    I am an unabashed Vetiver lover. The beautiful earthy smell of the essential oil. I have had some oils from Eden Botanicals – they are a supplier of very pure oils – and I just wear the oil neat, one drop will slowly develop over a period of time and has amazing staying power. I wasn’t too impressed with Annick Goutal’s version, something got lost in the translation. I would like to explore Jo Malone’s version.

    Vetiver is a very “grounding” scent and especially good for days when you are a little frazzled or have had one to many Expressos.


  • Mary says:

    Well, well, WELL!! My favorite subject!! Not to get terribly geeky about Vetiver, but I was sorely disappointed to smell the recent formulation of Sycomore. When first introduced in late 2008, Chanel clearly had incorporated Haitian Vetiver into its recipe, and it was absolutely intoxicating! It smelled just like a freshly harvested row of Vetiver!! By the time I decided to actually spring for the whole 200ml, Chanel obviously had changed its formulation to Reunion (Bourbon) Vetiver, not my favorite by a long shot (think Encre Noir). Give me my Givenchy, Annick Goutal and Floris any day!! I enjoyed reading your comments… One of these days I’ll sample Hove’s Vetyver.

  • Wendi says:

    Heh. I wish I got the vetiver love thing, but I definitely do not. It reminds me too much of the stank cloud that perpetually hovers around the entrance to every Abercrombie & Fitch storefront. I swear they must pump that filth through the air vents or something.

    That being said I would love to find a vetiver out there, wimpy or not, that I could love, but I’m seriously skeptical. :-?

    • Musette says:

      I haven’t walked past an Abercrombie in :-? 20 years? So I can’t say – but it sounds ghastly! Hope it’s not vetiver – maybe it’s toilet bowl cleaner?

      Vetiver seems to be one of those love/hate things – one either ‘gets it’ or one don’t (do one?) – especially when you get to the hot and smoky ones. I was really thrown by the scorchiness of them at first, then I fell in love!

      xo >-)

  • Claudia says:

    I just wanted to say that that is the most wicked looking animal I have ever seen! Now I know where Star Trek got their inspiration for Klingon skulls. LOL!

    • Musette says:

      Hey! I never thought of that – but you are probably right. I remember reading that the designer of Geordie La Forge’s visor got the idea from his daughter’s hair clip!

      He is kinda wicked-looking..but also kind of cute. As long as they are not eating birds or latching on to my finger or toe I’m okay with them!

      xo >-)

  • March says:

    This post cracked me up.

    I am NOT the queen o’vetiver, as you well know. My fave vetivers are wimpy, mannered things like Guerlain’s classic and the Lubin vetiver, both of which are more citrusy and gin-cocktail-ish. When we get into that rooty, dope-smelling aspect of vetiver I am less thrilled. I suppose it’s the common case of feeling like that smell wears me rather than vice versa.

    • Musette says:

      Babydoll, that smell wears EVERYBODY! You could be 32 feet tall, clad in a beaten gold breastplate, carrying a broadsword…and it would still wear you. It’s just that kinda thang!

      The mannered ones are nice – and I do like ’em – but when I get into that mood I usually veer into the 4711/Imperiale sidestreet. The ones I’m talking about here? It’s not often but when I crave pure-dee rope-a-dopealiciousness, it’s the only way to go.

      Though now, Louise has me going 😕 as I scurry to find the Le Labo Vet.

      xoxo >-)

    • Olfacta says:

      Ummm, gin cocktails. Unfortunately, it’s 8:47 a.m. here!

  • Cheryl says:

    I love vetiver, but I have few in fragrances…because I do mainline it (the essential oil) right on to my skin. You have to be in a certain mood for it..but it is glorious. I’d say Encre Noir is my fave version of perfume vetiver. I have heard that you can buy bath mats and window screens of woven vetiver roots….they release the odour when wet…..and it’s a psychologically refreshing smell…..doesn’t THAT sound cool?

    • Musette says:

      yes! though I am so not into anything wet right now. I have a cheapo cotton rug at the front door – I put the vet essential oil on a cotton ball and rub it into the rug. Because my dogs shed so much I vacuum twice a day 😮 – every time the vacuum hits the rug it releases a bit of the scent, which is nice.

      But the screens…………:-? I could go for some psychological refreshment right about now.

      xo >-)

  • mals86 says:

    Not, NOT a vetiver fan here. Like Louise, I tend to find it sour and unpleasant, and there’s something about it that just takes over so I can’t smell anything else. In composition with Other Stuff, in the right proportions, though, it’s elegant and dry and smokey, and I like it. Examples: Chanel No. 19 (if you’re thinking, “What, there’s VETIVER in there?” – well, now you know the extent of my tolerance for vetiver), L’Arte di Gucci, and Cuir de Lancome – which doesn’t even, technically, contain vetiver but smells like it does.

    It is not exactly damp where I live. It is HUMID, which is Stealth Dampness, and which deeply sucks. I’d rather it just rain.

    • Musette says:

      Mals, I’m a huge fan of Cuir de Lancome and would’ve gone to my reward never considering a vetiver connection. To me, it smells like caramel. But wait! It smells like burnt caramel (my fave) so….hey! I think I see where you would get that. If you get that smoky/burnt thing…yeah, okay!

      We’re all about the Humid here, too. But we’ve been getting tons of rain, which amps it 8000%. That’s when the frogs and the snails come out. Ick.

      xo >-)

      • mals86 says:

        Yeah Cuir is a weirdie – up close it’s Mom’s Leather Handbag, ca. 1973, complete with No. 5-saturated hanky, but wafted in the air a smoky woody thing with not a smidge of sweet. I don’t even DO smoke very often or very well, but Cuir is just right.

  • Fiordiligi says:

    That photo scared me, too! I had no idea what it was.

    I’m not all that keen on Vetiver either, I’m afraid. Like a good girl, I got Guerlain’s Vetiver pour Elle but I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic. I think maybe hotter climes than ours are required for its enjoyment. Well, it’s a theory….

    • Musette says:

      You think the photo is scary? Try coming upon the real thing, unawares. Sandals are not recommended.

      You are so cute with the VpE – you don’t have to like vetiver, it’s okay. I think it’s an acquired smell-taste meself, like the stinky cheese of gardenia or…..or….that sweat note that everybody raves about that I hate like a mongoose hates a snake. If I had to choose I would go for the reg Guerlain Vet rather than the Elle one. But that’s just me. YMMV.

      xoxo >-)

  • Olfacta says:

    That is quite a snapper. They stink when threatened, btw. I few years ago I found one in my yard, heading for our fish pond. I (very carefully) coaxed it into a bucket, and when I picked it up to take it back to The Swamp, it gave off a repulsive smell. Looked it up; that’s what they do.

    I should try more vetivers. A couple of the sample strips from Tigerflag are really tempting. Sycomore smelled to me like somebody set a grapefruit on fire. And, try as I might, I couldn’t get used to Vetiver Dance. Guerlain’s Vetiver reminds me of a difficult trip to Alaska I took a couple of years ago, but at least it helped keep the mosquitoes away.

    • Musette says:

      ’twas YOU who wrote the ‘grapefruit on fire’ when we first yarked on Sycomore! =)) I remember laughing like crazy when I read that. I will have to go back and revisit, with that in mind. Hope I get the Burning Grapefruit note!

      I, too, will be looking into Tigerflag’s vets. The type I like have the strength of an attar, so why not an actual attar?

      I’m intrigued by ‘difficult trip to Alaska’. Of course, I consider most outback-y places ‘difficult’ but I’m not sure if I’m on the same page as you (and it ain’t nunnmy, anyway) but I have to ask:

      Does GV smell like a difficult trip to Alaska would smell? Or….were you having a difficult time whilst wearing it on a trip to Alaska.

      And… I need to find something else to do right now? :-@

      xoxoxo your nosy >-)

      • Musette says:

        Btw – gotta wonder about the stink. I mean, look at him! It’s not like he’s got a whole lot to worry about, is there? He’s got a great combat chassis: fully armored, very tough!

        xo >-)

      • Olfacta says:

        Hi — The Alaska trip was difficult because my friend who lived there, who is a bush pilot in his spare time, routed the trip for us without really remembering how long it takes to get somewhere by car, and so it was rush rush rush the whole time and the DA just wanted to take pictures so I felt like a human tripod…whine whine whine. Anyway, every time I smell Guerlain vetiver I remember it.

        As for the turtle — down here in the South they can get huge. Like the size of a truck tire. And they can easily bite one’s finger off. (The one I chased down was a small one, maybe 8″ or so.) And still they need the stink? Once they make it past the just-hatched soft shell stage I think they’ve got it made. I guess they are the Klingons of the natural world.

  • Louise says:

    Vetiver and me-well, it’s complicated ; )

    I always love my LL-just the smokey goodness of it! And the other LL’s that use it-I smell some in Poivre as well. Vetiver Tonka brings out some much nutty goodness. L’As new Coeur de Vet is also lovely, if a bit sweet on the drydown. And then there’s Onda-so leathery, so beautiful, so intense-I look forward to the EdP to see if the edges are rounded. And Lubin’s-bright and cheerful with it’s peppery top.

    But some vets go very sour on me-particularly the Guerlains. Pickles. Sadly, Andy’s dance as well.

    To-try-Turtle Vet (oh, my, but where?) and the organics and attars.

    Hugs, A!

    • Musette says:

      What is LL?

      Pickles? Via Guerlain? You Blaspheme! Pickles? I think I love it!

      xo >-)

      • waftbycarol says:

        Speaking of Guerlain , anybody thinking of splitting a flacon of the new L’Abeille , at over 12,000 euros…? I’m in if you do…

      • Louise says:

        Le Labo. And only pickles on occasion : )

        • Musette says:

          Maybe that’s what I’m getting in the Ald 44? I have a flacon of Vet 46 (46, right?) – I forgot all about that. I’m going to put some of that on a bit later, after a cooling shower, pre-nap.

          xo >-)

          ps. yes, it’s come to that. 2200 Zulu and I’m thinking zzzzzzzzz

    • Dante's Bra says:

      Goutal’s vetiver is TOTALLY pickles on me. But I like Serge’s Vetiver Oriental– so pretty and lush, warm without being amber sweet.

      I want to find dried vetiver and put it in my sock drawer.

      Gadzooks, the midwest has been positively biblical this year, has it not?

      • Musette says:

        I didn’t know Serge did a vetiver. I tend to pass him by – I’ve yet to find ‘the’ Serge, knowmean? But I like the idea of lush and warm, minus the sweet!

        I do the next best thing, in my nightie drawer (and also under the bed, don’t ask why – I dunno….anyhoo, I do that whole saturated cotton ball in an old sock thing. It’s very nice. I do it with Bitter Orange in the bathroom, though I could stand to do it with vetiver right about now, seeing as it’s so freaking DAMP!!!

        And yes, it’s totally biblical! There are three massive oak trees in the parklike setting across the street from us – that they are still in the ground is nothing short of a miracle!

        xo >-)

        and why have I not tried Goutal’s vet? I will have to do so (I prolly have a samp around here – if not I see Saks in my near future). I hope I get pickles!

  • Francesca says:

    Love the vetiver too. Picture reminds me of a turtle whose life I saved and who was seriously not appreciative of the gesture!

    • Musette says:

      Nature is deeply ungrateful isn’t it? I was hoping for some sort of Francis of Assisi experience with the cardinals and finches I FEED EVERY STINKIN’ DAY :-w

      xo >-)

  • Masha says:

    Oh, yeah, I totally forgot to mention Andy Tauer’s Vetiver Dance. I received a bottle as a gift. It took me about a week of daily wearing to get used to it, I mean, lily-of-the-valley and vetiver? Plus many other interesting things. But now I love and crave it, and wore it quite a lot in Miami summer heat, and got compliments. So that says a lot, I think. Vetiver Dance doesn’t get a lot of love, but I think that’s because it isn’t given enough wearings. It’s deeply weird.

    • Musette says:

      that one is still a bit of a challenge for me. I have a 2ml samp and return to it now and again – and I nearly get it – but the LOVE is still elusive. Alas, my life is so fraught with weirdness right now that I can’t deliberately do ‘deeply weird’. Perhaps I should wait until things settle down…

      xo >-)

  • waftbycarol says:

    Glad you are enjoying their funkiness…somebody’s got to wear that stuff , cuz I can’t do vetiver…

  • Well, I’m all about Turtle Vétiver (not intended to smell like turtles: it’s a cross-disciplinary project by an artist in which Isabelle Doyen participates). The 80 bottles were sold but Isabelle Doyen has been working on a new variation, possibly quite close to the first one.
    My other vetiver love is Sycomore, the polar opposite to the rough, raw Turtle: polished and facetted.

    • Musette says:

      I love that whole project – and I love the backstory with the island and the eggs/trek to the sea and all. We ought to build them little slides, so they don’t have to work so hard! 🙂

      And I love Sycomore. I was saying to Joe, up above, that I always forget about Sycomore – and always fall right back in love with it the moment I smell it!

      xo >-)

  • Masha says:

    I love the Surinam vetiver also. But my favorite vetiver perfumes have become the new attars (yup, attars again) that are being made in the traditional way, but with vetiver substituting for the elusive white sandalwood. Vetiver plus mitti (dirt) is my current favorite, but you’re right, they really have to be diluted!
    A couple of neighbors were visiting, and I asked them to sniff the vetiver/mitti solid I’d just made. They made the most horrible faces, they’d never smelled vetiver before! But a few minutes later, two of them were asking, “Can I smell that again?” and one took some home! Vetiver is like that, isn’t it?

    A more polite vetiver favorite of mine if Rue Royale, by Hove’ Parfumeur, down in the French Quarter. I’ve worn that since I was a tiny little girl!

    • Musette says:

      Ooooooh! Those sound dee-lish! I love vetiver precisely in the same way your neighbors will. It takes a minute to get used to it. I remember thinking vetiver was like 4711, the first time I approached it. =)) In my defense the only vetiver I’d experienced was the lovely, refined Guerlain (man) so ….

      …but then you get ahold of one of the essential oils… it’s funny, because when I experience rose, say, v. a Rosine perfume, it’s similar enough to explain the connection. Ditto jasmine, orange, etc…but vetiver is different. It can be blended and diluted into something very light and ‘fresh’ whereas it sho’ ain’t that coming out of the eo bottle or burned as a bundle. It’s gorgeous – just different.

      xo >-)

    • Fragrant Witch says:

      I love Rue Royale, also Creole Days and Verveine. Hove lotions are lovely as well!

  • Natalie says:

    Hey, no worries, but I tried clicking on your name and all I got was your posts… I’ll send my info through the contact link again, and if I don’t hear back I’ll weep Sel de Vetiver-y tears (thanks for reminding me of that, Joe — off to dig up my sample).

  • Joe says:

    Funny, I saw that photo and had to figure out what the hell it was. Some weird plastic bag wadded up in an odd shape? Huh? OHHHH.

    I haven’t sought out those Turtle things, though I’m definitely intrigued. I definitely enjoy vetiver, but I don’t get so much smoke from the ones people call “smoky”, like Sycomore or Encre Noire. I love the Malle, I love the Serge, I love the Tauer (my poor sample that’s getting low!).

    I just recently got a decant of Sel de Vetiver and I could just eat that stuff up — it goes perfectly with our Santa Barbara air and weather (which is so far from damp most of the year that it’s not even funny — however, we recently broke free from a couple months of weather that was foggy or overcast until two in the afternoon; lately it’s been glorious, but it’s typical for it to be 50 at night and 75-80 during the day, which is really a crazymaking swing in temp).

    Hmm, maybe I’ll spritz my pillows with the Goutal Vetiver tonight. And drat you for pointing me toward Eden after March has been making me drool over Tigerflag. I just got some perfumer’s alcohol too, so I’ve been wanting to do all kinds of chemistry-set playing around. I’ll restrain myself though, because the wallet is getting cranky.

    • Musette says:

      All the ones you mention are absolutely gorgeous. I always forget about Sycomore!

      I love Santa Barbara. To me, it’s the perfect balance between LA and SF (yeah, what an ORIGINAL thought, Anita 8-|

      I wore Fracas to bed last night – woke up to damp sheets (the whole house is damp, alas). Bad choice.

      xo >-)

      ps. I’m such a doofus – I didn’t realize the Eden Botanicals ARE essential oils (where’s the head-smackin’ emoticon when you need him?) That’s why they are oozing out of the container like syrup! LOL!

      Forgive me, all – it’s been a rough week, I got the samps and I did nothing but put them on and fall in love! No research, no nuthin’. :”>

  • carter says:

    Denyse turned me on to Turtle Vet and she was right: it evolves backwards, starting out like a blast in the face of remarkably pure vetiver essence and becoming lighter and lovelier as it dries down into first a grapefruit-like zinginess and then finally, of all things, a floral bouquet. Every time I wear it I wonder at it.

    • Musette says:

      It really is lovely – I could see myself in that for quite awhile. Just not here. Not now. Not with the frogs and the toads all over the porch and the snails on the siding. We’re going to have to bust out the dehumidifier – my clothes are starting to stink!

      xo >-)