Today is my birthday, April 18th, and I have always found it significant that it also happens to be the day that the pilgrims in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales set out on their pilgrimage, “the holy Blissful martir for to seke/ that hem hath holpen whan that they were seke.” As a medievalist, I love it that I share my special day (well, at least the day of my birth) with one of the greatest compositions in the English language, as well as the fact that the tales open with an invocation of springtime and rebirth, an idea that I am always in love with this time of year:
"Whan that Aprille with his shoores soote/ the dorughte of March hath perced to the roote/ and bathed every veyne in swich licour, / of which vertu engendred is the flour...and smalle foweles maken melodye / that slepen all the nyght with open eye/ So priketh hem Nature in hir corages, / Than longen foolk to goon on pilgrimages /And palmeres for to seken straunge strandes / to ferne halwes, kouthe in sondry londes."
I keep trying to convince my husband that it is deeply significant that he was born on Shakespeare’s birth and death day (and Cervantes’ birthday as well) but he doesn’t seem that impressed ; ). Whatever the case, like the birds and creatures awakening from their winter hibernation in the Prologue of the Canterbury tales, I feel a deep urge to procreate, to feel the sun and rain on my skin, and to travel, to ‘seek out strange and sundry strands’—or, to put it more prosaically, to get out of dodge.
Anyway, I bring all this up because I am preparing to go on my own little pilgrimage, an aesthetic pilgrimage, to the Big Apple for six days this week. I hope to soak up as much culture (and fragrance) as possible before heading back to my little upstate NY town. I am planning to catch Renee Fleming as Armida at the Metropolitan Opera and La Traviata, and have dinner at my favorite Apulian restaurant I Trulli, catch the exhibition of The Mourners at the Met, and a host of other activities—like dim sum at my favorite Chinatown restaurant and Ethiopian at The Queen of Sheba--
but you are probably only reading this for the fragrance info, so I will map out my plan for my fragrance extravaganza. On Wednesday, it’s off to Brooklyn, first to the Botanical Gardens to check out and smell all the blooming things and hone my nose, then to CB I hate perfumes for sensory overload and back to the fragrance district to do some shopping. Then a trip to at least some of my favorite boutiques; Caron, Bond No. 9, l’Artisan, Aedes de Venustas, and Henri Bendel. And Bigelow Chemists, which I have never visited
And, of course, no trip to the Big Apple can be complete without some serious sniffing time at Bergdorf Goodman. Jealous yet? Anyone have any other recommendation for a non-native perfumista in the big city?