She made for quite a sight hurtling down the hillside on her sledge long after the snows had gone.
She didn’t care.
Her sleigh, as she had taken to calling it, was the fastest way from home to forest whether it was the ice of winter or the wet grass of spring under her.
Its hand polished soft wood frame, lustrous with the cool green lemon resin that she lavished upon it, cut a seamstresses swathe through the fields. She took the shortest route in the least time so as to waste none of the fabric of the day.
April showers and unseasonal warmth had brought forth a scattering of lily of the valley: with an outstretched arm she snaffled a few and tossed them into her basket without stopping or even deviating from the line of descent.
Arriving at the woodland’s edge she dismounted, wiped the cold compressed grass from her trusty steed’s blades, inhaled its bitter and brand new odour then wrapped the handful of green into tissue paper before placing it beside the muguet.
Once beneath the canopy, in dappled light and shade, her search began in earnest.
It was time for the first bluebells of the year, and she had determined to find them.
Hyacinthoides non-sctipta (how she preferred the old name of Endymion), always smell best when caught early, as though the first flush having pushed themselves so forcefully to the front are breathless and exhale their scent with a more serious ardour than later blooms.
She chanced upon them almost immediately, their hue picked out in bright watery sunlight, glowing in an otherwise out of focus glade.
She held them to her nose and was not disappointed, an innocent and uncloying sweetness, that charmed instantly. Carefully she consigned them to her carry all and prepared to climb home with her precious haul.
Then something tugged at her sense: a shaper darker smell, of trees and roots, growth and decay.
Extracting the scalpel from her lab coat pocket, she scraped a little moss from the base of a great oak, careful not to take too much, careful not to disturb the fragile colony too much lest she destroy it.
No need this time take the crop close to her face, its pungent scent reached her from the basket where it now sat.
There was another aroma too, besides the unseasonal tea rose and the wild yellow iris, but it was not until the rain came, brisk and businesslike, that it revealed itself. As she trampled a path through the undergrowth, she flattened, with the purpose of disarming them, a small cluster of nettles.
They responded not with a stinging rash, but an early smell of the next season. The scent was savoury, sodden yet sun bleached, swarthy and still clean: it was the presentiment of an English summer.
She longed to take armfuls back, but contented herself with a gloved handful or two.
And so she began her return: clambering through the already tall meadows, deep in thought as wild grasses brushed against her.
All the time considering how to turn these things collected from nature into chemicals and then how to compose them into black bottled magic.
Silences by Jacomo is a perfume that particularly deserves to be talked about, a hush that demands to be broken.
It is a glorious green, replete with floral abundance, a masterful but restrained use of moss and an uncontained herbaceous feature that is more centrepiece than border.
It is an exercise in apparently effortless formality and clear-sightedly brilliant composition.
The opening itself is quite special, a surprising cool breeze of aldehydic muguet, shot through with sharp lemon. Be alert though, for in this changeable spring day of a scent it is gone tantalisingly too soon.
Before any hint of disappointment can possibly set in at the loss of this commencement a tiered heart begins to emerge.
First the green chalk sour of galbanum arrives, only to be splendidly offset by the slight sweetness of hyacinths and more distantly rose and little iris.
Shortly after a late developing but rather beautiful and restrained oakmoss makes its entrance, providing a benign bitterness that allows the other notes to float more freely above.
Then, a product perhaps of this combination, or of the appearance of vetiver, cedar and ambrette in the base, a wonderfully natural accord of summer undergrowth, of stinging nettles in particular, comes to the fore.
This is a truly evocative aroma that carries with it the alternate heat and downpours, pleasures and pains of a temperamental temperate summer.
Silences, then, is a scent that contains two seasons, in one day and a single flacon.
And there we have a statement that should give you an impression of the tremendous scale of this achievement.
Sledges, forests, amateur botany and professional chemistry are pass times as fit for boys as girls.
With special thanks to the dear correspondent who provided The Dandy with a sample of this perfume in the vintage formulation.
The Perfumed Dandy.