“I had not seen Hugh Munro again, but I had wakened in darkness the night before to find Jamie gone from the blanket beside me. I tried to stay awake, waiting for him to return, but fell asleep as the moon began to sink. In the morning, he was sound asleep beside me, and on my blanket rested a small parcel, done up in a sheet of thin paper, fastened with the tail-feather of a woodpecker thrust through the sheet. Unfolding it carefully, I found a large chunk of rough amber. One face of the chunk had been smoothed off and polished, and in this window could be seen the delicate dark form of a tiny dragonfly, suspended in eternal flight.
I smoothed out the wrapping. A message was incised on the grimy white surface, written in small and surprisingly elegant lettering.
“What does it say?” I asked Jamie, squinting at the odd letters and marks. “I think it’s in Gaelic.”
He raised up on one elbow squinting at the paper.
“Not Gaelic. Latin. Munro was a schoolmaster once, before the Turks took him. It’s a bit from Catullus,” he said.
“…da mi basia mille, diende centum,
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum…
A faint blush pinkened his earlobes as he translated:
Then let amorous kisses dwell
On our lips, begin and tell
A Thousand and a Hundred score
A Hundred, and a Thousand more.”
Excerpt From: Diana Gabaldon. “Outlander.”
Have you ever read any of the Outlander series and come away with your head filled with the scent of romantic 18th century Scotland? You're about to find out what that time and place actually smells like! I am spinning like a top because on occasion, the stars line up and the moon lands in just the right place and an opportunity arises that is more thrilling than even I could possibly have believed , but first I want to introduce my friend Roxana Villa, Botanical Perfumer extraordinaire who is one of my scented soulmates. She lives high in the hills over Los Angeles with her husband Greg Spalenka who creates some of the most wonderful visually beautiful art that I've ever seen.
Roxana spends her days tending her honeybee hives, tincturing organic and exotic essences from faraway lands (and some nearby valleys!) and dreaming up the most ethereal accords to blend into her perfumes that I've ever smelled. She has a laugh like Titania and I do know her to be one of the Fey folk, because absolutely no one can capture the beauty and mystery of a simple flower like Roxana. The first time I met her, I came to her house and was greeted by a lovely woman proffering a cobalt goblet. "Have you ever tasted a jasmine hydrosol?" she asked. Indeed I never had and was immediately taken in by the loveliest scent that I'd ever experienced. It was a rare Sambac Jasmine hydrosol, misted over spring water. It was absolutely narcotic and Roxana has had me under her spell ever since. My husband sipped it as well and was rendered speechless. He still babbles on about that from time to time.....
So this morning, I posted an article about Roxana on my Outlander Love Affair Facebook page and shortly after that we had a conversation catching up after a long while because we've both been busy, me with the writing of my book and her with the opening of her gorgeous new Apothecary and teaching space in Agoura Hills , California. In the middle of just chatting about things, I discovered that Roxana and her husband will be at the San Diego Comic Con promoting the release of his new book.
That's when the world started spinning and I had a creative brainstorm!
I typed faster than normal ... Me- "Hey, do you want to collaborate on an Outlander themed perfume?"....Roxana- "An Outlander inspired perfume? Sounds like fun, let's do it!...We should tincture and infuse a material that comes from Scotland that is relevant to the story!" Me- "The books are amazing. I'll come up with a list. One of the most important parts of the story is a beautiful piece of amber...horse hair and leather are definitely important and so our notes from Guerlains original L' heure bleu !" Roxana- " "You know how I love Amber perfumes!"
Huzzah and off we go! Whenever we get a chance to work together it's a wonderful experience for us both!
So there you have it....The beginning of one of the most decadent and romantic perfume collaborations that the world will have ever seen! We'll be documenting the process every now and then on this blog and on Roxana's gorgeous Illuminated Perfume Journal. The best part? No animals will be harmed in the process. I like to think that a modern day Claire and Jamie would like that!
Of course there will be giveaways on My Outlander Love Affair and Milady's Pantry and Stillroom! I can't wait to begin!
For those of you at Comic Con in San Diego this weekend, you'll be able to meet Roxana and her wonderful husband. As soon as I have their booth number, I'll let you know!
If you're lucky enough to get to meet her, give her a hug for me!