Note: Ann is out today so I’m posting in her place. March will be posting for my Wednesday. Everybody Change Partners & Dance!
We all know that perfume can conjure of memories of people and experiences. It can also conjure up memories of place. Interestingly, I find that the ‘place’ scents are far harder to pin down – they’re subject to so many attendant variables: temperature, light, time, situation……..and even then they can be a bit chiaroscuro in their sense of place. For example: Agraria Bitter Orange. I first came upon ABO in San Francisco, back in the Jurassic Era. Agraria was started in a little Nob Hill shop and for decades was pretty much limited to SF (I’m not kidding with the Jurassic – this was 1970 – we didn’t even have brick phones yet, let alone the Internet!!) – anyhoo, in the 70s San Francisco was Everything Magical to me. Cool, fabulous, a portal to infinite possibilities for this Midwestern Catholic convent-raised geek. Agraria should’ve been the essence of San Francisco. But it’s not. It’s the essence of midtown NY on a warm Spring day. And everything is green and blue – no orange in sight, except for the slice in the tall, cool glass of Constant Comment iced tea on the cafe table. And Maroon 5’s Sunday Morning is the soundtrack. …..but not just any SM soundtrack and certainly NOT the video. No. It’s the version in Something’s Gotta Give, where Frances McDormand comes upon Keanu at the Hamptons Farmer’s Market. Try to parse that, I dares ya!
Ambre Grisea. The Brittany coast. No other coast. Believe me, I’ve tried. Weirdly, I’ve never worn it while at the Brittany coast. But one spritz and I’m back there, on a blustery early-Autumn day, in a cream-colored cableknit jacket (that Patty is gonna knit for me, I just know it!).
You’d think Ubar would conjure up visions of exotic Spice Routes. Instead, whenever I wear the vintage I am immediately transported to this sweep of highway on I-180, quite possibly the least exotic, most bucolic sweep of highway in Central IL. And it’s in early Autumn. James Taylor’s Walking Man is on the box and I’m on my way to get cinnamon rolls at the bakery in Bishop Hill (which is a good 45miles SSE from where I’m headed – but hey! it’s Poetics of Place and distance and Time can be bent at will). Doesn’t make Ubar any less gorgeous (and gorgeous it is) – but it’s a fascinating departure of Place, innit?
And y’all already know where Liz Zorn’s Violets & Rainwater takes me.
Notice that none of these are Big Classics? I think that’s because powerhouse signature scents tend to defy the poetics of place. Two of my Big Girls: Mitsouko is its own planet – consider that it’s gotten me through a tornado in the midst of a Central IL ravine at 10p as well as facing down a Commercial Banker at 10a in Chicago. Chanel No 5 (edt and parfum) is Everyplace. And always with her grandmother’s pearls clasped firmly around her neck.
Below is a photo from the amazing Lynn Geesaman. It was from her book that I learned the phrase ‘Poetics of Place’. I’m fortunate to have a few of her pieces, from Thomas Barry Fine Arts. Let’s have a bit of fun with one of her photos, shall we? Here is a gorgeous one (well, they’re all gorgeous – but I like this one for this exercise)…..if you’re in the mood to play, Scent This Place. There are no rules and no right answers. I’d just love to know what you think about this. I’ll pull 2 comments and … I’ll send you the scents that have assigned themselves, in my mind, to this Place.
speaking of random/comments/WINNERS:
Last time’s winners are: taleofahare (30) and caroline (10) – gmail your evilauntieanita with your details. I’ve become quite proficient at actually getting the stuff to the PO! so strike while that particular iron remains hot! The packaging is a bit scary – March and I pride ourselves on our ability to gink up a package – but the stuff inside is always a bit of fun, I hope!