Shakespeare on beauty, probably human beauty, since it seems to have been a frequent melancholy observation of his that it’s fleeting.
However, the observation’s just as applicable to the rose. Even long blooming hybrid teas have a day, at most two, when their bloom and fragrance are at their most intense, and that’s the moment that I always want to find in a rose perfume.
This may be an oddball ambition. Lots of people find that soliflore perfumes really don’t settle in well on their skins. There’s a fundamental mismatch going on along the lines of ”We’re members of different kingdoms, you and I. You’re from the Animal and I’m from the Plant and we have got to stop meeting like this.”
While I agree that this is true, consider the observation of Richard Mabey in his essay “The Perfumier and the Stinkhorn” on the inter-connectedness of plants and animals. The system is largely regulated by smell. Mabey suggests that we humans are just beginning to sketch in a diagram of the complex because of the invention of the electron capture detector by James Lovelock in the 1960’s.
This device can detect tiny amounts of pheromones, and facilitate naturalists’ observation of animal reactions to atmospheric cues. Bees, for instance, can read minute amounts of chemicals on the wind perhaps over territories as big as forty square kilometers and then bring it all back home and tell the other bees what they’ve discovered. “But we now know,” writes Mabey,” that residues in the exhausts of cars using lead free petrol react with the odour molecules from flowers rendering them indecipherable to bees. This may be one of the causes of the now widespread problem of sudden hive collapse.”
Unproven, naturally, but this suggests that animals and plants may not be such olfactory strangers to one another as we might previously have thought. That plants “talk” to each other using smells is something I’ve long suspected myself. Mabey quotes Colin Tudge, a British biologist and science writer, and I’ll quote him too: “We can’t hear the trees calling to each other but the air is abuzz with their conversations none the less, conducted in vaporous chemistry.”
Think of all the days you may have watched the trees in a wood tossing their branches sequentially in a light breeze, the gestural, chatty equivalent of “My Heavens!” and “She actually said that?” and thinking to yourself that the trees’ interactions reminded you of your aunt’s book club in session. Possibly the observation was not a fanciful one.
All of which gets me back to the rose scent which is meant to be nothing more than the essence of rose on a June morning when that rose is the ne plus ultra of rosiness. Possibly smelling like that yourself, while a touch ambitious, is not really so out of kilter with your own biology. We know that a rose is a rose is a rose – except for when it’s not.
Rose perfumes that perform:
Prima Ballerina – Strange Invisible Perfumes (wait until the top burns off)