A few years ago many of us were fascinated by the BBC documentary series Perfume. It's no longer available on iPlayer, but I've just discovered it on Youtube, so for anyone who wants to see it again, or for those who couldn't watch due to geographical restrictions, you can find it there.
Following the series I read and loved The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur by Jean-Claude Ellena, the "philosopher-nose" who is featured in programme 2 (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4); there's an introductory post on the book here and a short extract from it here. In the documentary, M. Ellena is described as "making fragrance inspired by fantasy", and I am currently much taken with one of his "olfactory masterpieces" for Frederic Malle, L'Eau d'Hiver. Luca Turin classifies it, in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, as "pale almonds", and begins its entry thus:
"One of the dangers of the new French school of perfumery typified by Jean-Claude Ellena is the lure of bloodless overrefinement, what I would describe as Ravel's* disease: wonderfully crafted, elegantly orchestrated pieces drenched in pale sunlight." He goes on to talk about Ellena's treatment of the fragrance's mimosa note of heliotropin and says, "the result is stunning: an elegiac, powdery, almonds-and-water accord that takes its place [...] among the fragrance Ophelias of this world."
To me it seems understated and effortlessly, seamlessly beautiful, simultaneously warm and cool, serene.
If you want an in-depth look at the chemistry and neuroscience of olfaction and the art and culture of perfume, how about this Secret of Scent course with Luca Turin and Bois de Jasmin's Victoria Frolova? Sounds wonderful.
And one more thing, The Perfume Society has a 'Fragrance Editor', an online search device which helps you find scents based on your perfume preferences. I've no idea how accurate it is, but testing it could be fun.
In his Anatomy of Dessert: With a Few Notes on Wine, Edward Bunyard - nurseryman and pomologist - describes James Grieve as "in its Midlothian home, a Christmas apple, but with us in the Home Counties a September fruit." Mine didn't get much chance of being either last year as the squirrels got most of them, but perhaps the apple's late season here explains why in September and October so many specimens were sampled by the squirrels and found wanting. Typically the blighters brazenly picked the fruit, took a bite, decided they weren't to their taste, and left them littered about the garden. Perhaps this year I should net the tree.
The snails have made a garden of green lace: broderie anglaise from the cabbages, chantilly from the choux-fleurs, tiny veils- I see already that I lift the blind upon a woman's wardrobe of the mind.
Such female whimsy floats about me like a kind of tulle, a flimsy mesh, while feet in gumboots pace the rectangles- garden abstracted, geometry awash- an unknown theorem argued in green ink, dropped in the bath. Euclid in glorious chlorophyll, half drunk.
I none too sober slipping in the mud where rigged with guys of rain the clothes-reel gauche as the rangy skeleton of some gaunt delicate spidery mute is pitched as if listening; while hung from one thin rib a silver web- its infant, skeletal, diminutive, now sagged with sequins, pulled ellipsoid, glistening.
I suffer shame in all these images. The garden is primeval, Giovanni in soggy denim squelches by my hub, over his ruin shakes a doleful head. But he so beautiful and diademed, his long Italian hands so wrung with rain I find his ache exists beyond my rim and almost weep to see a broken man made subject to my whim.
O choir him, birds, and let him come to rest within this beauty as one rests in love, till pears upon the bough encrusted with small snails as pale as pearls hang golden in a heart that know tears are a part of love.
And choir me too to keep my heart a size larger than seeing, unseduced by each bright glimpse of beauty striking like a bell, so that the whole may toll, its meaning shine clear of the myriad images that still- do what I will-encumber its pure line.
I follow the Instagram account England's Dreaming and greatly enjoy their themed postings of (mostly) English art. One of their recent pictures was Winifred Nicholson's The Hunter's Moon (top) which I've put with her Recollect as they evoke Autumn and Spring respectively.
Both are in the Tate Gallery's collection, and their catalogue tells us that the artist said of The Hunter's Moon, "The turn of the season from Autumn to Winter is always a time of adventure to me - a call out into the mountains and forests of unknown things: contrasted with the secure shelter of lamplight, home and one's books", while the paintings' previous owner remarked, "The pictures of Winifred Nicholson represent for me the world of childhood and early adolescence. It is a world of order, security and cultivated civilisation".