Winter, a time for powdery perfumes

It’s starting to feel like spring in New England, with this week being the warmest it has been in a while (in the mid-40s Fahrenheit—ha!). The owls are back in business, hooting, and various birds have reappeared, each chirping their own tune. I’m not so confident that I have emerged from the mindset of winter, but it’s got to happen sometime. Thanks to Tara’s review in her January Reading Diary at A Bottled Rose, I bought and devoured a copy of Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May. As far as verbing nouns go, this example is possibly one of the most powerful shifts in perspective, giving us back some semblance of control over a series of present moments that, cumulatively, seem to have stolen control bit by bit.

On not having had enough time to enjoy cooking, but it could apply to anything:

Life has been busy, and in the general rush of things, these vital fragments of my identity have been squeezed out. I have missed them, but in a shrugging kind of way. What can you do when you’re already doing everything?
The problem with “everything” is that it ends up looking an awful lot like nothing: just one long haze of frantic activity, with all the meaning sheared away.

On the fabled hardworking ant being an ideal “if only” compared with the grasshopper who idled away the summer:

The truth is that we all have ant years and grasshopper years—years in which we are able to prepare and save and years where we need a little extra help. Our true flaw lies not in failing to store up enough resources to cope with the grasshopper years, but in believing that each grasshopper year is an anomaly, visited only on us, due to our unique human failings.

On progress in a cyclical pattern of life:

In the meantime, we can deal only with what’s in front of us at this moment in time. We take the next necessary action, and the next. At some point along the line, that next action will feel joyful again.

I would never have thought of going to the beach during the winter if I could help it, but inspired literally by a scene in this book, I decided that’s exactly what I wanted to do this past weekend. So we went, about an hour’s drive away, to see snow on the beach. Only a few other walkers were around, and despite a bit of wind, it was quite pleasant to stroll on the wet sand dotted full of colorful pebbles. To our surprise, we also spotted at least 3 surfers!

Usually, I’m not a fan of powdery perfumes. I like the scent of my perfumes to have a palpable fluidity, whether in the form of floral or green juiciness or musky milkiness. However, winter has made powdery fragrances more tolerable for me. The literalist in me reached for my mini of Frédéric Malle L’Eau d’Hiver—while initially, it doesn’t play very well with my skin, the bergamot and talc-like heliotrope conspiring to smell like a wet wipe, it later warms to something more almondy and brings the iris forward. It almost snuggles.

My sample of Nicolai Parfumeur Createur Musc Intense, the last vial to be used up from the discovery kit I bought, has also been getting some personal attention recently. The brand lists simply “pear, rose, musk” as main notes. Fragrantica goes further and cites top notes as pear, Turkish rose, and galbanum; middle notes as rose, violet, carnation, and jasmine; base notes as musk, civet, amber, and sandalwood. My nose is biased by the shorter list and drinks up all the pear in the opening—I’m thinking ripe Anjou pears (as opposed to fresh tulips, which smell like crisp Asian pears… but I digress.) The fruit flesh desiccates into a powder puff, and this is when the rose become perceptible—but it is by no means a lone rose. I thought it was flanked by lily-of-the-valley, but the list has proved me wrong, and I can’t really pick out the nuances of the other notes. Musc Intense doesn’t do much for me, but the stylist who trimmed my hair the other day (I know, being able to go to the salon is a luxury not everyone has right now) seemed quite enamored by it, so I passed on the information.

I, for one, am ready for spring—and a bout of thirst-quenching perfumes.

8 thoughts on “Winter, a time for powdery perfumes

  1. Tara is a wonderful inspiration 🙂 Thanks to her, in January-February I read (well, listened to but still) my first not work-related book in probably at least a year.

    One of the reasons why I tolerate the absence of seasons (especially Spring!) in the North Cal is the absence of Winter! I’m scarred for life by a couple of especially unpleasant winters in my last 2 years of the “previous life,” so if I can help it, I would never choose to experience real Winter for more than 3-5 days at a time, as a vacation. I think I got the general idea of the book, and I think I agree with the approach, but since I haven’t read it, I don’t want to speculate.

    I think that I rather like powdery perfumes, but specifically L’Eau d’Hiver wasn’t “my thing.”

    Nice picture!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I dream of living somewhere without winter, but don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon! Walking on a frozen pond the other day was fun, though.

      You probably got the gist of the book through reviews and online articles without having to read it in full. For me, it was the empathy that made it very worthwhile, rather than any specific advice.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your take on Wintering and happy it prompted your trip to the beach.

    I totally agree it’s about turning winter into something you can actively participate in rather than having it happen to you. Those shifts in mindset make all the difference and I hope to take it forward with me each year.

    I never thought to pair powdery perfumes with winter but I can see how the cold air might make them less overwhelming.

    Great post all round and love the photo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tara! I appreciated that she acknowledged that the mindset shifts were to be done over and over again as well – it’s not something we can “finalise,” which is what I tend to try to do (which, in turn, makes failures harder to accept).

      I still wouldn’t choose powdery perfumes over others on cold days – I prefer woody or leathery ones for heft.

      Liked by 1 person

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