Halcyon

Jasmine

My parents have Jasmine growing in their garden, and around this time of year it starts to bloom so beautifully that you can smell its musky fragrance before you even step outdoors. I have a bunch which I picked from the garden sitting in a small white vase on my desk as I write, and I feel cocooned by its scent.

Fragrances I love remind me of the word ‘halcyon’ with all its meanings of calm. I feel completely worn out lately, and so I find myself seeking comfort in things that have always worked in allaying stress. One of these things is scent. I’ve only recently discovered the pleasures of solid scent balms. There’s something so soothing about them as they allow you to carry certain scents on your body without that astringent, alcohol ‘aftertaste’ that often accompanies spray perfumes. Or, maybe they just work better with my body chemistry. That’s the thing I like about fragrances: they work differently on different bodies.

It seems that my body reacts well to soft and sweet scents, some musky and flowery, others vanilla and sugary. These are a few scents that have ‘halcyon’ written all over them (one of them quite literally): En Suenos by Midnight Gypsy Alchemy; #42 White Flower by Simpatico; Violin in the Attic by For Strange Women; and Halcyon by Paintbox Soapworks. Just reading the descriptions of these scents is comforting. The one written for Halcyon is particularly lovely: “Warm lamp light, gleaming oak floors, the quiet stillness of a spring evening spent curled in the parlour with a good book & fine company.”

I’ve been using the Simpatico one non-stop ever since I bought it on a whim in my friend’s shop here in Perth. Throughout the day, I will roll down my sleeves and smell my wrists. No one else can really smell it, it’s a very subtle scent. Only I know I have it on. But that’s why I wear perfume: not for others, but for myself. It’s one of the few scents my cat is willing to tolerate on me too, although he will quickly rub his face against my wrist if I allow him a whiff of my perfume. Of course, he knows that he smells the best, and he’s right.

It’s Rosh Hashanah eve (or, the Jewish New Year) tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to more halcyon scents: my mother’s chicken matzo ball soup, fresh flowers on the table and honey and apples for a sweet new year.

P.S. A few other things: One of my short stories was accepted for publication in The South Circular journal, Issue 7. It will be out on 26 September if you’d like to read it; This post will make you feel calm and cry happily; My Meanjin essay is now online.