A spell of unseasonally warm weather has caused confusion for plants and flowers.
Looking from her lawyer’s window at the Inn of Court, she can see the The Walks with formal borders and faux fruit trees in full blossom.
Yet, on the lawns and in the beds, narcissi still hang on, not willing yet to yield their Spring to this silly three day Summer. In between, impatient tulips are already ready to take their neatly sculpted turn in the newly warm sun.
A few lilies of the valley, made to look accidental despite the care taken by the head gardener over their cultivation, lurk in an otherwise gloomy corner: all delicate and dainty in their counterfeit innocence.
The sun catches a slight fracture in the glass and concentrates in an unbearably bright line on the blank white page before her.
She turns wincing from it and finds herself unable to think. She wants to be somewhere, more precisely sometime else.
Exactly, she wants to be in last Summer.
A headline on a page towards the back of her discarded newspaper tells how a similar heat wave in the Eastern Mediterranean is adding to financial woes with cultivatory chaos.
Trees are maturing early and there are fears of a premature crop, of a glut of soft fruit: figs, nectarines, peaches and apricots. Just like last year, when through lack of demand prices plummeted and plums and gages remained on trees to rot.
She remembers how plentiful and cheap everything was, and how they shopped the markets together, struggling home with heavy bags to share their plunder with sash windows wide open and Sarah Vaughn on the stereo.
But even they, in their lovers’ hunger, could not eat everything.
She remembers that with what was left over they had made sugar free jam, and then recalls that one jar remains.
A gift for colleagues it has been shunted to the back of a cupboard in the communal staff kitchen. It takes only a moment to hunt it down.
It s in her hands now, and with the care an archaeologist reserves for the opening of an ancient cask, she prepares to open it.
The metal lid loosens and swivels and the vessel gives up a sigh.
Instantly she knows that the scent is no longer of Summer.
There is a strange note, almost like a melon or pear above the peach she had expected.
It is the pineapple that she added to give the thing some ping. It has matured into a solid autumnal tone.
She takes a teaspoon and carves herself out a mouthful of the dense matter.
Only when she places it in her mouth, when the sugary stuff touches her spit, can the apricots, which in their abundance made up the majority of the supply, be tasted. They are honeyed with age now, round and fat and confident on the tongue.
Then: the rosewater.
They had taken pounds of petals from the old bushes in Field Court and macerated them in vodka to make what the book told them was a tincture.
They had drunk some, and worn some as scent and put the rest in the jam.
One spoonful was quite enough to bring it all back.
Enough to remind her that since then a winter had passed and that, following one sharp shock, she too had passed from the May to the September of her life.
Tresor by Lancome may not be quite precious enough to live up to the promise of its name, but it is an elegant and adult scent that rewards the attention afforded it.
It is a perfume that puts pay to the notion that all fruits notes must be sugary sweet nothings: this is a complex composition imbued with a strong sense of recollection.
It is often said that this is a Summer smell, I would contend that it has much more of Autumn about it, of a drawing in of the harvest and taking stock.
Everything starts with a large fruit note that succeeds in neither being too cloying nor sweet nor, indeed, fresh.
This is a preserved fruit fragrance and for all that is undeniably peachy, there is element, perhaps in the interplay with a muguet that is definitely discernible, that creates the impression of cantaloupe melon or very ripe conference pear.
Beyond this is copious apricot, though created once again in a confit form. Indeed there is alcoholic element to this central section that makes one think of fruits floating in formidably strong Mittel-Eurpoean liqueurs, like specimens in formaldehyde.
Even the rose which forms the fragrance’s other main theme seems suspended in a very fine fruit jelly.
Gradually first the rose and then the apricot dissipate and, the floral scented jam all consumed we are left with a dry down that is a little disappointing in its vanilla and sandalwood predictability.
In the final account, Tresor is an excellent confiture.
An olfactory aide memoire for soft fruit and velvet roses.
Yet as with all preserves, it calls to mind the past and leaves one longing for the real thing that it can never quite be.
A gentleman is as likely to take jam on his bread as a lady.
The Perfumed Dandy.