My apologies for my massive fail last week – remind me never to type the m-word into a post (m-word signifying those really bad headaches.) Been awhile since I had one like that.
Second – this whole daylight savings time – compadres, whose nonsensical idea was this? Since we moved the clock forward an hour on Monday, the teenagers are catching their bus to their local asylum o’ higher learnin’ at (body-time) six a.m. – and they’re at the end of the bus run! And trying to get everyone to bed at night is not working out too smoothly either. Is it true Arizona doesn’t have DST? Maybe I could move there. Not Phoenix, which would kill me in the summer, but up north somewhere….
But I digress. I took a stroll through the neighborhood, full of perfume-related thoughts; please join me.
The spring thaw brings up the pervasive smell of earth – loamy, rich, wet dirt, with an occasional accent of potting soil from spring pansies and other early plantings. An older home had a wonderfully compelling combination of smells right there for the taking in one strategic inhale – the dank, mossy fug of a magnolia tree, the pissy smell of boxwood, and the honeysuckle-on-steroids smell of what I assume is a non-native witch hazel (I’ve been told the native species are more delicately scented.) Add in a hint of wet brick walkway or damp slate for a nice twist.
A long, late-morning stroll does contain a few scent surprises. The main one for me was how frequently I could detect the scent of laundry detergent or dryer sheets, floating out of the houses on a stream of warm, humid air from the dryer vents. If I can smell drying laundry from twenty or thirty feet away, are we sure we should be putting that stuff on our clothes?
I came home from my walk with a lust for the smell of dirt and promptly threw on CB I Hate Perfumes’ Black March, which I like to pretend Christopher Brosius himself named after me. The damp earth and faint sweetness of Black March are an ultimate spring virtual-reality scent. Some people find it unbearably creepy; to me it is suffused with promise. Other fine dirt scents are (obviously) Demeter Dirt and Le Labo Vetiver, a rootier, more abstract piece of earth.
Damp, wet streets? The original Dior Fahrenheit and Annick Goutal Eau du Fier, with a jolt of tar, smell nicely of spring asphalt. A more abstract scent, the feeling of being in the street with some wet fence and some lilacs (bonus!) is Malle’s En Passant.
Laundry detergents and dryer sheets? You are on your own; plenty of scents out there like that, starting with Clean Fresh Laundry. But since I don’t want my laundry to smell perfumed (unless it’s my leftover Mitsouko or Femme on the sleeve), I’m no further help.
Having reveled in Black March for a couple of days, I got to thinking how I might layer something with it to get a fuller scent-picture of the street in spring. Something with a lot of galbanum might work here, but I opted to add the boxwoody Mandragore. Then it needed a faint hint of sweetness, but not too sweet – L’Artisan Mure et Musc to the rescue. The three scents were worn on different parts of my arm, so I could lean in and focus on one of them if I wanted to.
Finally, for you gardening fiends: this year my wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) got nailed by the ice storm in February, which is when it blooms, cheering and delightful. Mine is a cutting from my father’s yard, a wonderful shrub I grew up with, but they’re commercially available. Anyhow, I’d written it off for the year. It’s blooming like crazy right now, a powerful aromatic combination of honeysuckle, honey and galbanum, which can be smelled from fifteen feet away. This is all the more astonishing when you consider the total non-showstopper quality of the blooms, which when fully opened look like the small broken pieces of popcorn at the bottom of the bowl. (Don’t let those online close-ups fool you; the blooms, at least on mine, are fingernail sized and sparsely placed.) If you don’t mind the mess as the blooms fall, and I don’t, the cut stems in water will perfume an entire room.
image up top: wintersweet, Wikimedia commons