Sunday, June 6, 2010

adventures in sinaesthesia: holding melancholy and despair at bay with George Harrison, gardens, and Tam Dao

hellmouth Sometimes the world is too much with us. Like when our oceans are pouring black blood, and uncomprehending animals are caught in a dark tide that ends their world, not with a bang but a whimper.

we feel we can do nothing but suffer with them, as the gorge rises in our throats like that black bile coming from the hellish belly of the earth. NO human effort seems worthwhile in such an atmosphere of despair.

Certainly no aesthetic enjoyment should be contemplated. Who are we to laugh, to smile, to think even, when we have perpetrated such horrors?

But yet, there is still love, and maybe there is hope, though I doubt it very much…..

On days like these, when the wind blows and the rain falls, as if sympathetic to our bootless despair, there is nothing to do but cry for a lost world.

But yet, there is still George Harrison, singing his heartbreakingly lovely “I Live For you,” the most melancholy yet gorgeous love song of all time.

But yet, there is the enormously comforting woody aroma of Tam Dao.

But yet, there are the arms of loved ones, quiet places in which to cry together on days like this.

But yet, there are humble gardens, wet and blown by winds, which can still be helped, can still respond to our care, which can show signs of improvement, which can assuage our guilt, and help us slowly forget. But should we?


Hellmouth image from folio 17r in Ms. 30 of the Los Angeles Getty Museum, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A miracle?!?!… followed by a garden reverie….


First, a reminder to enter in the drawing for a Tauer Perfumes Discovery set HERE

Enjoying a G & T on our pack patio last nigIMG_5006ht while my husband barbecued, I saw a hilarious thing. This little chipmunk was sitting, as still as can IMG_5007be, on my terracotta statuette of St. Francis of Assisi. Now, as you all probably know, St Francis is the patron saint of animals. The first real Western environmentalist, so to speak. So I thought it was pretty funny that this little creature chose to perch on the saint’s head as sanctuary from my cat Oliver, who was regarding the little chipmunk with, shall we say, an interested eye.

Saint Francis must have been doing his job, for no great bloody drama ensued.

I have been enjoying my little garden lately. It’s nothing special, but it’s mine, and things have been blooming like the dickens lately. The herbs—lavender, thyme, oregano, chives, tarragon, basil, dill, smell fabulous, as doIMG_5036 the geranium leaves, the little roses, and the dirt itself.


The composition of a garden’s smells echo the composition of a perfume. There’s the base—dirt, maybe woody or musty smells, then IMG_5022 the mid-range notes—lets say heavy floral smells—then the evanescent herbal topnotes. This is, of course, old news to all you fragrance enthusiasts out there, but it is still a revelation from time to time, especially on evenings after it rains, and the moisture has brought out all the different scents in the garden, and one realizes what an elegant composition it all is.

Andy Tauer’s Reverie au Jardin offers one interpretation of this experience, an olfactory dream of a garden, which like mine, is very herb-heavy. Lavender is the star of this show, but this is a special, unique lavender indeed.IMG_5027 This lavender actually smells like lavender, a perfume feat which is no little accomplishment, considering that most ‘lavender’ scents smell nothing like the actual plant and its flower.   

A bunch of lavender, and a lot else, that is…. Even though I don’t see it in the official notes, I smell sage, and maybe chamomile. I smell the musty, dusty green of geranium leaf. I smell a bit of the smoky amber incense of the Tauer oeuvre, but not much—just enough to let you know without doubt whose composition this is. I smell a bit of salty disintegration---must be the ambergris---

And, I smell a lot of pine and resinous notes, which make me shift my imaginary image of this garden away from a better version of my own little kitchen garden to some Alpen or Rocky mountain locale, where throughout a painfully short growing season an assiduous gardener has coaxed some herbs and a few perennial flowers out of a soil made acidic over millennia by countless generations of fallen pine needles . The garden, even now, is surrounded by tall fir trees—they fill the perimeter of the yard, making even the hottest summer day seem cooler with the intensely cold smell of their sap and needles, and the dark greens and browns of their appearance.

Forgive me, I rhapsodize. You see, I am from the Rocky Mountains myself, and now live far from home, so any perfume that can conjure my beloved mountainous landscape quickly becomes dear to my heart, and I might, just might, start projecting just a wee bit….

So, back to my review. Like I said, the super-herbaceous accord that sits on the top of this is amplified by a foil of high-quality resinous notes as well as a IMG_5045 nice piney thing.  All of this is rounded off and complicated by orris root and ambergris, the former lending the composition a buttery sweetness, and the latter returning a bit of nose-tingling sharp saltiness to keep it all a little wild. My husband says that this smells a  lot like opium—the drug, not the fragrance—and I include that comment here, not knowing myself whether it does or not, having been a goody-two-shoes in my college days. He also picks up what he calls a ‘lemongrass note’—take it or leave it.

Reverie au Jardin is, like all Tauer creations, a powerful scent, although it mellows gracefully with time. It starts out as this monster herbal affair, suffers a slight midlife crisis when the fragrance comes apart a little at the seams and it becomes ever so slightly too medicinal-smelling, then reincorporates itself in the drydown, becoming a spectacular lavender soliflore to my nose, larger than life and in some way not lavender at all; as if different notes were held together with aromatic glue, or superimposed on top of each other, resulting in the most magnificent lavender—kind of like the legendary Nahema does with roses. It is, in this sense, a sort of Franken-lavender, but in the best possible way!

All pics mine today!

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Other Bloggers’ reviews of Reverie au Jardin:

all I am-a redhead

the Non-Blonde

perfume smellin’ things


Perfume Shrine

notes from the ledge

Any more I’ve forgotten? Let me know and I’ll link you up!


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