Thursday, December 10, 2020


One of the tropes I've occasionally used both in sneer and wicked humour has been your maiden aunt's lingerie drawer. Which smells richly of expensive soaps, French lavender, perhaps hints of cedar and roses. I often describe Lakeland tobaccos as having that whiff.
It was actually what the sock drawers in our house smelled like when I was a child.
The odour allegedly kept the moths away. I don't know if it works.

"There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts."
Ophelia in Hamlet, the madness of scene five, act four.

Rosemary; a kitchen smell, evocative, comforting. Especially when combined with caramelized onions and a touch of garlic, as well as the wine used to seethe the meat in the pan after browning. The kind of aroma that takes you back to France.

Smells bring forth the past. The clean clean odour of a doctor's office, the chalk and pencil shavings of a grammar school classroom, the coffee roasting from the nearby Trieste in North Beach, buttery bakery odours at a popular coffee shop in Chinatown, ghostly whiffs of shrimp paste and sandalwood incense in grocery stores, intense green scents and a mere hint of durian at vegetable markets ......

It's early summer. Bright, but not hot. Mildly warm. Washington Square Park will be nice.

A commenter recently dwelt on perfumes.

Lady Ignatia J. Reilly said...
I remember my Zayde smelling distinctly of 4711. He quit smoking before I was born.
I remember him quite fondly and this is probably why I wear it; my Bubbe's chosen fragrance of Elizabeth Arden's Red Door was too feminine for me (I was a tomboy) and my mother's chosen fragrance of Shalimar is too sultry for a confirmed spinster of a literary bent.

Top notes: Lemon, bergamot, orange, basil, peach.
Middle notes: Jasmine, lilies, cyclamen, rose.
Base notes: Oakmoss, vetiver, cedar, pogostemon, sandalwood, musk.

Elizabeth Arden's Red Door
Top notes: Lily of the valley, freesia, violet, plum, anise.
Middle notes: Roses, orange flower, jasmine, carnation, ylang ylang.
Base notes: Oak moss, sandalwood, heliotrope, benzoin.

Shalimar, by Guerlain
Top notes: Bergamot, lemon, mandarin orange.
Middle notes: Iris, jasmine, rose, opopanax patchouli, vetiver.
Base notes: Sandalwood, oakmoss, musk, tonquin, vanilla.

Evocative fragrances that bring back some lovely memories: Jasmine tea, thyme, certain metal alloys (drafting tools), dark shag tobacco (Holland), wood waxes, forsythia, camphor in Chinese stick ink, old books, autumn fruits and wet leaves, cut ginger, real Syrian Latakia.

Syrian Latakia was Shek El Bint ("the maiden's cleft"), a mutant relative of Burley, with medium-sized leaves and a sherry-like undertone. Smoke curing made it more resinous, sharper.
Cyprus Latakia is softer, more 'perfumy', indistinct.
A smell twixt plums and incense for many tobacco blends.
Stone fruits, mown hay, peatiness, woodsy, herbal.

Dried citrus fruits also resonate. It's a very subtle set of fragrances, as the richest essences have fled the peel during drying, and only centre scents remain.
Smells are inherently sensual.

Printing equipment and book binding supplies: various schools and workshops. And for some reason I cannot explain I remember them all as having an abundant share of light, both electric and natural. It may have been the walls (white) or the windows.

Cinnamon, coriander seeds, green cardamom.
Mace. Fenugreek. Toasted cumin.

As a tobacco related lagniappe, I cannot recall the odour of everyone's favourite McClelland tobacco. It did not make a sufficient impression.
Remarkable, when you consider that tobaccos, like tea, and graphics materials, have been so dominant in my life. There were cigar factories in the town where I grew up, and fermenting leaves perfumed the air one breathed, more so the closer one got to Willem II or Hofnar.
Cynically, I'd have to say that Frog Morton must have had a room note pleasing to vegetarians and spiritual people. The non-smoking puritanical relatives.

I cannot recall the smell at all.
Sorry, I've tried.

However, I can acutely remember some pretty horrid stinks.
That vile crap Brian was smoking last year.
It was a Danish product.


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