The vernal equinox has to be one of my favourite days of the year. Doesn’t matter if it’s rain or shine – always makes me happy to mark the shift from winter to spring.
The weather here has turned much more conducive to being outdoors. So, I’ve done more cleaning up – weeding, planting, cutting back, putting down grass seed in bald spots. To my joy, the wisteria has settled in its new spot and is producing new growth, and one of the clematis I thought was gone completely has resurrected itself (I think this is the one I rooted myself, rather than having bought the plant). Oddly, the passionflower, which has chugged along for years, has gone dormant. I guess one never knows with plants – they do what they want to do. Like cats.
Watched the season’s first episode of Gardeners’ World (welcome back, Monty, Nelly and Paddy et al). It made me want to buy yet more plants, but I’ve still got some things coming and really once they are in the ground I need to let the garden decide what it wants to do post its horror experience last spring through autumn when the builders were in (and stomping all over it – the garden is the only place they could store stuff and do things like carpentry – I live on a main road, have a very small front courtyard, and park around the corner in the church carpark). And, finally, Chris, the DIY guy, removed my old garden bench and has said the refurbed one should return at some point this week. Happy spring!
Portia’s post last week about a completely synthetic perfume sent me off looking for my copy of The Perfect Scent which has some interesting material about the structure of a natural molecule vs a synthetic one. Burr can be irritating because he clearly thinks Burr is the best thing since sliced bread. But, he writes well and engagingly about perfume, so I metaphorically bite my tongue and read on.
I really enjoyed The Perfect Scent — a sort of parallel trip through the development of a mainstream fragrance, SJP’s Lovely, and a more idiosyncratic one, JC Ellena’s Un Jardin sur le Nil for Hermes. The concept, the process, the end-product. Very different journeys but both fascinating.
In any case, molecules. Burr discusses the sort of snootiness that can be found regarding natural vs synthetics and the argument from some regarding a preference for natural only. I was certainly leaning towards the ‘naturals are superior’ camp at one point years ago. However, the only perfume I’ve ever (ever) had a skin reaction to was an all-natural. So that sort of resulted in me getting off my high perfume horse and adopting a somewhat more measured approach. Also, I was reminded, as I grew up with scientists, about better living through chemistry.
When Burr laid out the structures of the natural and the synthetic molecules, the list for the former was hugely long; for the latter, much shorter — the point being that the more ‘stuff’ in a molecule the more potential for a reaction to something included.
I’m not saying that thus all synthetic is better – I certainly don’t believe that and I’ve gotten less pedantic, at least about perfume, as I’ve aged. It’s just interesting and worth taking note of, to my mind. Lots of truly beautiful stuff leans one way or the other, but I think most of the best takes a middle road, using a mixture.
I’m not sure if The Perfect Scent is still in print, but I expect it’s available from used book providers. It continues to be among my favourite perfume books, along with another Burr, The Emperor of Scent, and Turin and Sanchez’s Perfumes: The A-Z Guide (ie, the first one they published).
So, have you read TPS and if yes what did you think? And did you mark the equinox?