Fragrance Friday: May Muguet Marathon

Fragrance Friday: May Muguet Marathon

As you may know, possibly my all-time favorite fragrance note is lily-of-the valley, or “muguet.”  I associate it with one of my favorite books, Elizabeth Goudge’s “The Scent of Water”: Fragrance Friday: The Scent of Water. I carried lilies of the valley in my bridal bouquet in April (flowers I grew myself), but May is traditionally the month for muguets, when the flowers often bloom and when the French give bouquets and sprays of the blossoms on May 1. So, since this is the first May since I developed my passion for perfume, I’m going to celebrate May by posting as many reviews as I can of muguet-focused fragrances, including the latest in the Hermessence line, “Muguet Porcelaine” by Jean-Claude Ellena as well as some classics and other new discoveries. Wish me luck! And please join me in the comments during this May marathon!

lily-of-the-valley basenotes

Fragrance Friday: The Scent of Water

Fragrance Friday: The Scent of Water

One of my favorite books is “The Scent of Water”, by Elizabeth Goudge. Sometimes I re-read it when I need respite from the tug and pull of my modern American life and job. It is the story of Mary Lindsay, a single, childless woman who leaves her successful career in London to move into a house in an English country village which she has inherited from a distant elderly cousin. She is on something of a spiritual quest, to rediscover her true self, her beliefs and her memories of the man who loved her more than she loved him, who had died in war before they were married.

Elizabeth Goudge had a rare gift of description: her words beautifully evoke the people and settings of her novels so that one can truly see them in the mind’s eye. Her early training was in art, and it shows in her ability to paint pictures with words. The house Mary Lindsay inherited is very old, and its rooms are bathed in rippling greenish light, as if they were underwater, because of the ivy and wisteria vines that grow near the old windows: it has a “dark stone-flagged hall where a silver tankard of lilies of the valley stood on an oak chest. The flowers and the polished silver gathered all light to themselves …”  Goudge uses the metaphor and imagery of water throughout the book, including an ancient well of springwater, hung with ivy and moss, that figures in several characters’ stories in the novel. She is also well aware of the symbolism in Christianity of flowers like the lily of the valley, which stands for purity and humility and is sometimes called Mary’s Tears, referring to the Virgin Mary and the tears she shed at the Crucifixion.

What is the scent of water? One of the other characters is another older woman, also single and childless, Jean. She is a kind but timid and fearful woman, often depressed and overwhelmed by life but struggling bravely to meet its challenges.

“Jean was visited by one of her rare moments of happiness, one of those moments when the goodness of God was so real to her that it was like taste and scent; the rough strong taste of honey in the comb and the scent of water.”
Elizabeth Goudge, The Scent of Water

But if one were to seek an actual scent that captured the spirit and atmosphere of this beloved book, what would it be? I nominate Jo Malone’s Lily of the Valley & Ivy, which  wafts from my wrists as I write this. With its notes of ivy (top), lily of the valley and narcissus (heart) and amber and beeswax (base), it is a lovely green floral with a hint of white musk. It is an elegant, quicksilver scent with earthly roots. It reminds me of a small, green and white English garden after a gentle rain. The scent of water.

Photo: http://www.basenotes.net

Too Many To Choose Just One

Too Many To Choose Just One

What was my favorite book as a child? I was such a bookworm that I couldn’t possibly pick just one. And I still own so many of the books that I loved as a child and teenager that now I qualify as a book hoarder. One of the greatest joys of parenting my own children was that I got to share my love of books — and my actual books — with them from the time they were infants. Sitting in a rocking chair with a baby or toddler in my arms, reading picture books to them, is a memory I deeply cherish. It only got better as they got older, when we took turns reading to them, and then they took turns reading to us. Oh, how we loved The Cat in the Hat, fairy tales, anything by Eric Carle! Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry, Little Golden Books, we sailed through them all. Continue reading