Down to Earth

The edge of our pond

The edge of our pond

There is a definite shift in the season here.  Connecticut has those four clearly demarcated seasons and this one is the transitional, the rainy, the mucky, the still cold but the light is brighter, the sap is running one, we have a name for it: mud season.

This should be a little more shoe and less wellington boot, but the fact is that I have spent the last several weeks cutting brambles out of the garden.  This is not a pleasant job and generally has me battling something very long and spiny which then manages to work thorns into jeans, shirts, scalps, wrists and fingers no matter how plasticated and tough the gardening gloves.  I really do find this season irritating from a purely epidermal point of view.But the smells are wonderful.  Clear, carried along the only slightly moist air and full of the advance advertising of spring.   Our chipmunks have already responded to this call and are out most mornings running full speed with their tails straight up to wherever it is chipmunks go.

The last of last year's leaves

The last of last year’s leaves

The pond has a wonderful odor of melting ice and mud. there is something about all this that makes it impossible to ignore and go the usual route of vanilla and amber and co.  So this is also the time when I begin to pick and choose in the perfume cabinet.

Fact is though you can’t douse yourself with florals right now.  what I end up doing is looking for something that replicates that smell of mud and earth and yes, earth scents in late February and early March.

If you’re one of those people who love the smell of basements ( a large number of people do btw) or garden soil, or the scent of stones and earth after a shower, you know what I am talking about.  Patchouli  used to be an earth lover’s sole option. Then along came Chistopher Brosius

and Demeter’s Dirt.  That was a surprise hit for the little house and is still out there.

The original Terre d’Hermes had a distinct fragrance of petrichor and flint which was wonderful but may have been toned down.  I’m not certain of this, but think later bottles smell less flinty and more grapefruity.  This takes that perfume off my personal list of good earth smells.

Daffodils though more than mine...

Daffodils though more than mine…

Chris Brosius does a minor classic called Black March. I’ved smelled this in Brooklyn and find the scent almost too expressive to wear.  But it does bring up this pause between Spring and Winter with startling exactitude.  In fact earthiness is sort of a signature note in Brosius, with appearances in Memory of Kindness, Greenbriar, and Room with a View.

Another perfumer who loves good earth is Neil Morris.  Earth is in City Rain (which is like an urban post modern Apres L’Ondee I reckon) and in his series of Earthtones fragrances.  Dark Earth or Earthtone no 1 is what I am thinking of.  He describes this as the moment between winter and spring.  That’s what I want, the suspense between seasons, and unfortunately is a perfume I have not yet smelled.  But will. It’s mud season and you need to get good and dirty.

Are you a lover of earth notes?  If so which one is your favorite smell or perfume?




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2 thoughts on “Down to Earth

  1. No gardening happening yet at my house, but we are enjoying the sight of our first crocus and the buds emerging on shrubs and trees. To me, the earthiest perfumes are the oakmoss-heavy perfumes of the past such as vintage Replique parfum, which smells dark, organic, but not green. Large doses of galbanum (vintage Vent Vert, vintage Bandit) also smell earthy to me, like soil with a lot of lime or clay in it. Newer perfumes with geosmin have a up-to-date earthiness that I enjoy, but they don’t make my heart sing like the older stuff. I haven’t tried the ones you mention here but I get this new earthy note in Hummingbird Bat and Apoteker Tepe After the Flood.

    1. I am gardening now because I hate traipsing about in the heat during tick season!

      Replique now that’s a classic you don’t often find folks referencing. It was very earthy and changed according to whoever wore it, sort of like Joy is civet on some people and jasmine on others even when they are all wearing spritzes out of the same bottle.

      Vent Vert was a spring time gale, so full of sap. Now what do people wear in March? 😉 Black March? Maybe they wear Hummingbird Bat (which I haven’t run across yet) or Bas de Soie?

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