Thursday, May 27, 2010

notes from my lunar insomnia and iris nobile review

nielsen moon

Time for my monthly musing on the full moon—I can’t help it, I’m made different by its light shining in my window, inescapable, in ways comforting and maternal, yet also strange, disturbing. All my senses come alive; I am my self, amplified, for better or worse. Over these six years of marriage I have infected my husband, who now suffers the same sea change as I every time that celestial body climbs up in the heaven, redundant, resounding. We huddle together in our bed, listening to each other’s breathing, wondering when, if, how, we will ever achieve sleep. We hearken to the wild night noises outside our windows, the sounds of creatures somehow bigger, invasive. as if they roam the corners of our silver room, lurking and hunting, shrieking and munching.



I smell my skin, scented with the unnatural, or perhaps super-natural, human amplifications of flowers, roots, woods, and unnamable sensations with only a pale chemical for a name, the product of alchemists in sterile laboratories, often far from the moon’s light, but never from her influence. I love my skin, love how the little pale hairs seem to be waving the fragrance slowly up from my arm, as if the moonlight itself were a light breeze that lifted molecules from me. I feel like

I could waft up myself, into the sky, floating above my body, when I am like this. Flying like Wendy hand-in-hand with Peter on the way to some land beyond naming, beyond comprehension.


Tonight, my fragrant companion in this endless expanse of lunar time is Iris Nobile by Acqua di Parma, an elegant, delicate lady whose limpid watery pools of scent softly shimmer--evanescent, seemingly--yet hold up to the intensity of this hot moon-filled night. Soft buttery green notes, like damp reeds in the undulating river of time, and the faintest of orange-blossom indoles, balance out the watery aspects of this fragrance, but all dance together with the moonlight in the most ghostly way. Well, hopefully the water-irises and I can finally go to sleep now, now that I have written this all down and gotten the weight of my thoughts off of my breastbone. We can hope……

Oh Moon, mother of all Fortune,

every plant aches toward you,

the seas are pulled by your gossamer strings.

night plants emit their vapors, breathe out their souls into your sucking light.

beasts prowl your forests, live and die in your image.

blood rises to meet you in the  highest air,

and in my own veins.

lovers come together and apart as you rise in the sky.

my skin glows with your cold presence.

you choose my being, determine my substance;

I am bound to you, by a tie thick as death,

and nothing but death can ever hide me from you.


kay Nielsen’s moon image from “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” found on

recording of Puccini’s ‘Perché tarda la luna?’ from Turandot, the Wiener Staatsoperchor and Wiener Philharmoniker recording, conducted by Herbert von Karajan

a quick reminder that my book and fragrance drawing and giveaway is still in full swing. don’t forget to enter your name here if you are interested!

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  1. What a beautiful post! (Are you a Cancer, by chance? I'm moonstruck myself and it's no coincidence that my birthday is in early July!)
    Regarding iris scents in general: Are there others you like? I must say I don't know this particular Acqua di Parma scent, and I keep forgetting to try Serge Lutens's "Silver Iris Mist". I guess iris is an ingredient not on a man's fragrance radar as much as is the case with scents catering more to women. (I don't believe in strict male/female categorization, but you know what I mean.) Notbale exception: the very powdery/irisy "Dior Homme", which I did like a lot.
    Take care!

  2. Thanks, Michael; I was a bit loopy with the lateness of the hour and all...I woke up this morning wondering if I had really posted it...and kind of wishing I could take it back. I'm not a Cancer, unfortunately. I am an Aries, but I don't know enough about astrology to know if that would make me more inclined toward the moon or not. But it does push me over the edge somehow. I am still a bit owly today.

    I haven't tried SL Iris silver mist either, though I'm sure I'd like it; I have never met an iris I didn't like!

    I am always digging around for more, but off the top of my head....

    Maitre parfumeur et gantier fleur d'iris--I'm smelling it right now as I write this-- is a lovely old-fashioned iris perfume. It's an essay in old fashioned round and powdery notes--I get violet alongside the iris, lots of iris, vetiver, maybe some rose and jasmine to push things forward a bit. But a good iris, and definately wearable by both sexes. (I wonder if all irises are--I mean, they are all basically skin scents, and if someone gets close enought to smell them, they probably know whether you are male or female already ;) )

    L'Occitane's Notre Flore Iris is really nice, I think, and has that nice buttery quality for which the orris root is justifiably famous. I always smell it when at a l'occitane boutique

    Hermes Hiris I have only smelled once, but I liked it because it seemed to capture some of the moldy dirty smells one finds on an iris root pulled right out of the ground, and also those fresh vegetal notes. It's like a portrait of the whole plant in a way.

    Finally, my husband wears bois d'argent, and I love it--the iris is actually aggressive in this one, if you can believe it. It lasts forever, and has lovely honeyed patchouli notes as well--it is powerful though, and I think it bothers some.

    And then there are all the lovely compositions which use orris as a binding, powdery thing that sort of frames the whole scent-- my favorites: patou 1000 and the two super blue Guerlains, apres l'ondee and l'heure bleue.

    Thanks for getting me thinking about this...I'll have to seek out some more iris smellies and try to do some sort of more intensive study

    Hope you're well over there in Italy, you lucky dog!

    Sarah (LBV)


what thinkest thou?


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