Halcyon

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

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.

10 comments:

anabela / fieldguided said...

It's so hard to write about scents (if you're me, anyhow), but this was so lovely to read. I don't know if you ever saw this but my friend Carly's interest in perfumes is so fascinating to me.

L'shanah tovah!

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said...

I've always wondered what the word meant! We have a restaurant in town with that name, now it makes sense. :)

Sally said...

Oh man, I could talk about perfume oils all day. Thanks for the intro to Paintbox Soapworks! Gingermilk is described as "like a head-boop from a little orange kitten" - how could I resist?! Like you, I prefer comforting, vanilla-y scents.

Olfactory memory is so fascinating, how inhaling a scent you used to wear takes you back instantly to that moment in time. My first solid perfume was from Lush and it still brings back twinkly adventures abroad in England.

Oh, and I really, really liked your Meanjin essay.

Sally said...

I could talk about perfume oils all day! Like you, I prefer close-to-the skin, comforting scents. Right now my favorite is called Isolde's Wish from Wylde Ivy. Thanks for the intro to Paintbox Soapworks - Gingermilk is described as "like a head-boop from a little orange kitten" - how could I resist?!

Olfactory memory is so fascinating, how inhaling a scent you used to wear takes you back instantly to that moment in time. My first solid perfume was from Lush and it still brings back twinkly adventures abroad in England.

Oh, and I really, really liked your Meanjin essay. Thank you for sharing it.

Rambling Tart said...

I love citrus essential oils: bergamot, lemon, etc. Yesterday I bought orange and I can't get enough of it. :-) Perfumes give me a raging headache but the oils are my friend. :-)

Caitlin Rose said...

I love perfume. I love reading about perfume! Lovely!

Hila said...

Anabela: I find it hard too. I find it hard to write about a lot of things actually! And thanks, Shana Tova to you too ;)

Andi: :)

Sally: I really admire bold scents, but only in the bottle - they just don't work well on my body. I stick with sweeter scents.

Krista: Yes, many perfumes give me a headache too - I was told that this has something to do with a synthetic 'ingredient' used in making spray perfumes to make the scent last longer. I'm not sure if this is correct, but I do know that I never get headaches from natural scents that come in the form of oils or balms.

Caitlin Rose: Thanks!

Kelly said...

Congratulations on your upcoming fiction pub! I'll hope to get my hands or eyes on it.

I love imagining the scent of "violin in the attic."

rooth said...

Hila, big congrats on your upcoming publication!

Hila said...

Kelly: I love the names of the scents too - 'violin in the attic' is particularly good.

rooth: Thank you!