I'll be honest- this winter hasn't been the harshest or the longest one I remember. After all, today is March 19th and the temperatures are firmly in the upper 60s-lower 70s. In my back yard there are signs of life everywhere (and I'm not even talking about the fornicating squirrels that provide nonstop entertainment for my cats). But just last weekend we had a major storm that plowed throughout the NY Metro area knocking down trees and leaving major destruction in its wake. Two people were killed not far from here. In my town there's a lot of damage to people's houses. Businesses on our main street are still without power and the cable company has no idea when they will be able to resume service. And here I am whining about having a cold and using a slower internet connection.
We all have our ways to deal with uncomfortable times. For people who are led by their nose, it usually means seeking solace in scent. Certain aromas speak to us about better days or create an instant comfort zone because of a special memory. And some simply taste good...
Ayala Sender, natural perfumer and author of Smelly Blog, organized a group of perfume-friendly bloggers for this project: Comfort Scents For Uncomfortable Times. Here is my list:
1. I want my mommy. When I feel like this I have to go and sniff a little of the original Chloe (the 1970s version by Karl Lagerfeld). Chloe has been my mother's signature scent for nearly 30 years. It goes to show you that given the right circumstances, even a loud white floral can provide comfort.
2. Speaking of my mother, there's absolutely nothing like the aroma of a fresh baked bread or butter cookies. Nothing bad can happen in a house that smells of yeast and dough.
3. Chaos by Donna Karan has an interesting blend of chamomile at the top and an incense body. Ever since I got my bottle of the reissue I've found myself wearing it when I want to feel calm and centered. Instant poise in a bottle.
4. Tea. The entire ceremony that starts with choosing the perfect one, measuring the leaves into the filter, brewing, pouring and sometimes adding milk is very relaxing. Once you smell the tea itself, be it chamomile, Earl Grey or my guilty pleasure of vanilla or chocolate flavored black tea, the world starts making a little more sense.
5. Lavender. You can soak your troubles and aches away in a lavender-scented bath (oils, Dead Sea salt or some good bubbles). I love the bath and body products from L'Occitane that are also enriched with shea butter, and topping it off with a lavender perfume. From the pedestrian Lavande by Molinard I use to scent my bed to the artisan creations of Ayala Moriel (Lovender- herbal over a vanilla base) and Vero Kern (Kiki- French lavender, fruit and praline-filled pastry), it is as good as it gets.
6. Cat. If you've ever had pets you know what I mean. Burying my face in their silky fur and inhaling that sweet spot behind their ears. The crazy cat lady has spoken.
7. Fresh oranges, preferably cold. Is it the promise of vitamin C or childhood memories of my mother peeling them for me? It's a happy smell, for sure, full of promise of sunshine and warmer days to come.
8. Lei by the Italian house Mazzolari is the perfume equivalent of snuggling with a soft blanket while drinking hot cocoa top with tiny marshmallows (the good, barely sweet kind they sell at Whole Foods). It's sweet and powdery with a touch of bitter cocoa.
9. The smell of books, old and new. I started reading very early and ever since then books have been my comfort and escape route. Mean girls? Mean boys? It doesn't matter, I'll be here in the corner with my true friends Elizabeth Bennet, David Copperfield, Moomintroll and Dr. Susan Calvin. They smell like old paper, glue and musty wood. I always sniff the air at used book stores looking for that special aroma.
10. Home. Several perfumes mixed together, something green from the reed diffuser, zucchini and eggplant roasting in the oven, root vegetable broth, lavender and powdery amber from the bedroom, furniture polish. And, yes, cats. It smells like us, it smells like home, and nothing is more comforting than that.
What are your comfort scents? Please share them and don't forget to visit my fellow bloggers who have compiled their own personal lists:
Roxana's Illuminated Journal
Notes from the Ledge
Perfume in Progress
Katie Puckrik Smells
A Rose Beyond the Thames
I Smell Therefore I Am