I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
It's a balmy summers day in Cleveland, Ohio, the kind of day that just makes you long for the days when you were a child and could rip your clothes off and run around naked with with abandon.
It's the kind of day that makes me want to go skinny dipping and then eat fresh peach ice cream until I'm so full that I could burst.
Alas, I can't do either of these things because I'm an adult now and my days are full of trivial adult like pursuits. A girl can dream though and this morning when I was searching for something that would cool me down and comfort me I remembered this precious combination. These two beauties from the house of Annick Goutal when blended together are sheer poetry and they remind me of the many days spent in my father's garden when I was very young.
Daddy knew more about dirt and flowers than anyone I've ever known. His gardens served as the muse for his true love which was painting. When I was younger his gardens were fairly basic ,but then he fell madly in love with France...more specifically Giverny. He came home from that first trip and began anew. He researched everything, we liked to tease him and say that he was clearly a frustrated botanist and should just go back to school.
He planted roses (never hybrid teas) and searched for the perfect peonies. He loved his lilies and his Irises. His garden was a symphony of colorful chaos, not contrived at all and completely blowzy in the English style but with a French romanticism that was palpable. He had so many different species of so many different plants and his herbs were gorgeous and lush, mixed in with a painterly touch. His Lilies of the Valley have never been supplanted in my heart. He always kept Sweet Woodruff growing underneath his maple trees so that he could make May Wine every spring which we'd share glasses of together while watering the gardens in the evenings.
If you read my perfume writing you already know that I don't give a fig about a fragrance pyramid or what makes it all up. What I care about is the emotional template of a perfume and this blend reads like a Shakespearean sonnet juicy , musky and green. When I put this on, it immediately cools me down. Either of these fragrances are lovely, but blended together they shimmer diaphanously , reminding me alot of the beautiful dragonflies that inhabited my fathers beautiful world. Together they smell wet and almost feral, sexy like Queen Titania yet they're a perfect combination to wear with long pearls, linen and a cup of tea.
My father has been gone for too many years now, and it took me a while to find my new home. I work every Tuesday and Thursday in the beautiful Western Reserve Herb Society gardens that are housed down at The Cleveland Botanical Gardens. I spend my days with wonderful women of like mind tending and harvesting the herbs, making glistening jellies, jams and other wonderful things.
My true love though lies in simply being down there, quietly tending and clipping and mulching and remembering my fathers words, "Build the soil, Feed it well, Water it Wisely and you'll have a beautiful Harvest. "
Undoubtedly the best advice for life that he ever gave me. Use it and bloom!
Originally published in Perfume Smellin Things