In her heart she knew that spring was the hopeful season, yet this year it felt, if not cruel, then hard.
It was hard too to let go of the rituals of winter, of early suppers and open fires, sleeping in until darkness ended and of hospital visits without, it seemed then, an end.
But all of that was over.
On a day between those set aside for St David and for other mothers she went to see them open the earth with sharp shop window shiny spades.
She watched the men who serve the dead in their deliberate unhurried work and realised she hadn’t anticipated the smell. She hadn’t known that winter soil disturbed after months of slumber would so surely carry the scent of decay.
Last autumn’s leaves decomposed and mixed with wet grass, grey moss and the year’s first flowers smells simply and unkindly chemical.
In the astringency she sensed an echo of her anguish.
Anguish. She could never use the word at home where she was expected to partition off her pain and move promptly along.
Her mother, people remarked, had lived to a good age.
The wreaths that came contained premature blooms: geraniums, carnations and roses all brought out before their time.
Only she had chosen a spring flower. Her violets spelt out a circle and no name.
Walking from the church, the resins and spices and smoke still surrounding her, the priest’s platitudes still in her ears she was roused from her semi conscious state by the same chemical stench.
Stood by the grave someone handed her a handful of dust.
And in her head a soprano began to sing Purcell.
“When I am laid in earth
am laid in earth
may my wrongs create
no trouble no trouble in thy breast.
Forget my fate!”
TS Eliot was wrong you know, it’s not always April that is the cruellest month, it is whichever season that brings sorrow with it.
Dioressence is a terribly sad smell, the smell, in fact, of sorrow.
In the vintage formulation a vertical door of heavy as lead oakmoss serves as an opening.
Aldehydes, unspecified green notes and a slight citrus seek to sanitise and lighten this dark accord but do nothing to soothe its awesome presence.
The interior of the fragrance remains determined by this entrance too, and whilst there are floral elements within: geranium most noticeably, rose, carnation and some structural jasmine, the whole effect remains resolutely patchouli , grassy green and solemn.
The spices, resins and hint of musk that seem to come to the fore for a moment in dry down fade to pianissimo much sooner than the principal notes are done with their song.
The overall effect is magisterial and silencingly beautiful.
Others of course will hear the spring chorus singing nature’s melody in the meadows by the way and perceive the call of procreation and are in their way are quite right too.
Dioressence is substantial enough a piece of work to allow for many readings.
Sorrow does not discriminate between men and women and nor does the springtime, then why should this scent?
The Perfumed Dandy