Thursday, October 1, 2009

Contest Time

Too many things to jungle left me with no ready post today. But since autumn is approaching so fast paced, I had an idea for a little contest: Write a short paragraph about what autumn means to you in terms of smells, what is your favourite aroma to signal the coming of autumn and why it resonates with you and the best one (judged by me) will win a good bag of several upscale samples including Divine, Lutens, Amouage, Neil Morris, etc. etc.
Submissions valid till Sunday midnigh.
Good luck!

The clip comes from the 2004 Greek film "Weeping Meadow" (Το λιβάδι που δακρύζει) by Theo Aggelopoulos, for me the quintessential autumnal director. Music by Eleni Karaindrou.


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  2. The turning of the season from summer's brazen blooms and baked earth, to the subtle crispness of autumn has long been my favorite. I adore the liminal stages between one to the other, and the transition is marked not only by temperature and fashion, but most profoundly (for me, at least) by scent.
    Everything grows darker, heavier and we find ourselves turning inward, burrowing down to our roots. Here the some of the deepest memories, awakened by an aroma of a sudden cold breeze, a waft of cinnamon, wet earth, bonfires. Capturing these without cloying or too heavy-handed is difficult. It's a subtle, more ephemeral blend. My favorites for Fall are: Oshadhi's Roots, and Burning Leaves, The Wild Hunt, and M3 November by Christopher Brosius. I also love L'Artisan's Tea for Two and Serge Lutens Five O'Clock Au Gingembre.

  3. I'd love to be entered in the drawing. Autumn smells for me? The hay-amber sweetness of fallen, drying leaves. Damp earth and leaf mold on a cool, misty morning. The metallic smell of crisp air on a perfectly clear day. Wood smoke. The cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and ginger baked in holiday treats. The thyme and sage for Thanksgiving dinner. To me these favorite scents are like a warm blanket to cuddle in and protect myself from the encroaching cold of winter.

  4. to me, fall is all about warm smells set against the crisp air. hay, incense, warm donuts, apples, caramel, cinnamon, tobacco, leather and dirt come to mind. a good fall fragrance should be thick like the sweaters and scarves we begin to throw on when leaving the house. Anything too light will make me miss the summer instead of appreciating this new and fleeting season.
    now that it is october, i will be enjoying Bal A Versailles, Tocade, Omnia and Miss Balmain more than ever. Bal A Versailles will remind me of a hayride with the amber and powder keeping things warm. Miss Balmain will be gorgeous stuck to wooly sweaters, while Omnia and Tocade keep me feeling sweet and uplifted.

  5. Hot sun on ripe figs. Fog rolling in off the ocean at dusk.
    First rain in 6 months on dry ground...

  6. To me, autumn is not exactly about smells - I somehow can't bring myself to associate it with burning leaves, crisp air, hot chocolate or any other usual choices. Most of my autumns tend to embody a certain feeling which I find it quite hard to name. It mostly feels like sadness of a very peculiar kind - a brooding, poignant type of sadness, the one that doesn't really feel bad. The one you don't really want to let go of. And yes, it does have its very own smell. L'Heure Bleue.

  7. rachaelg22:41

    To me, autumn is the smell of my cat coming in from the cold. It only lasts a minute, maybe less, but if I can scoop her up before she runs to the dinner bowl, and inhale deeply, there is a fragrance of incomparable beauty, and nearly impossible to describe: it is cold but alive, her fur, yes, but also wisps of the smoke from our chimney, the fresh cut woodpile she nestles in to watch for mice, the sweet brown of decaying leaves on the forest floor. Wandering outside won’t lead you to this smell, it is something unique to her and her kind. Maybe we walk too far from the ground, or maybe we don’t stay long enough in one place, but her autumn is a world truly apart from mine. While I love the rich wine and honey of my autumn, it is nothing compared to her wild and lovely life.

  8. Nina Z.23:15

    In the warm, dry days of early fall in Northern California, we like to hike up Mt. Tamalpais, in whose sensuous curves the Miwok Indians saw the shape of a heart-broken Indian maiden who died there of sorrow. As we walk through the deep, shaded redwood forest, the mysterious, spicy scent of the California Bay Laurel wafts through the air, mingling with the scents of pine and damp moss in the creek bed. When we ascend toward the top of the mountain into the golden meadows of the chaparral, the air becomes drier and sweeter, as the aromatic dried grass, nutty oak, earthy sagebrush and bitter rue bake in the heat. Later, when the rains come, the grass will turn green, orange poppies and purple lupin will bloom, and silver salmon will leap up burgeoning streams. But, for now, this is autumn. And childhood. And home.

  9. The smells and aromas that conjure up autumn for me are very much influenced by my childhood. Growing up in the woods of Maine, I have specific and clear memories of the smell of chopped wood, of being buried in the damp earthy smell of fallen leaves, the smell of birch bark stripped from the trunk, and several kinds of smoke. There is the smoke from woodstoves and fireplaces, the smell of burning hardwoods (apple, oak, swamp maple, birch, and beech each have a distinctive smell), the blue-gray smoke columns extruded from chimneys was very different from the pungent herbal aroma of burning leaf piles. And then there was the rich vanilla-tobacco smell that wafted around my pipe-smoking grandfather. Tea berry plants form a low ground cover in the damp forests; the small pink fruit could be eaten and the leaves when crushed had the wonderful smell reminiscent of apples and spearmint. My mother’s father owned an apple orchard, and in the fall after harvest the local fruit stand made their own apple donuts which were dusted with cinnamon and sugar.

    The fragrance that has come closest to capturing this autumn bouquet is Eau d’Italie’s Bois d’Ombrie. It lacks the tea berry, apples and spice, but captures the crisp, dry air and the smoke brilliantly.

  10. Anonymous11:00

    Autumn - it is the time of ripe grapes,apples and pears, smoke, honey, wine, amber and spices. The scent typical for autumn is gourmand - candied fruits in honey with added spices and smoke, maybe pine needles as well. I love this time of year. Thank you for enterig me in the drawing. Alica - alica@cleis.net

  11. stella p11:45

    The temperature is just above zero here in Mid-Scandinavia now, creating a pre-winter feeling. First half of September was beautiful with the leaves turning colors and falling on the ground, the air still mild. But now the first snow is not far away, it rains insanely, and the most prominent smell is rotting leaves and soil. Sometimes October is cold, crisp, dry, and beautiful, with low sun reflected in leaves and water (I live by a fjord) and then I crave warm scents with spices, honey, woods, incense. Now, in this dreary grayness, Mitsouko is the one. It seems to evoke and transform the earth and gray wetness, in a way that adds colors to this atmosphere (of melancholia). The spices I add in my tea..

  12. dinazad13:24

    First there are fruits and spices and a nip in the air: plums, apples, pears, mirabelles, and the incomparably beautiful scent of quinces. The spices that join the fruit in chutneys, jams and quince "mostarda". The first warmer clothes. Youth Dew Amber Nude and Prada (always makes me think of pastel coloured cashmere twinsets and pearls). Chanel Coco. Serge Noire. Tauer's Vetiver Dance.
    Then come nuts, roasting chestnuts, sunflower seeds. Markets and the scent of candy floss, gingerbread and sugared almonds. Leather jackets come out of the closet, the knitting comes out of its basket and tea and candles become everyday necessities. A sharp tanginess in the air. Chypre Rouge. Chene and Chergui. Knize Ten. Borneo 1834. Lonestar Memories. Aqaba for the candle-lit night out.
    Then there's fog and rain and a raspy smell of decay as the fallen leaves rot in the gutter. Wet earth as you prepare garden or balcony for winter. Pomegranates and the sharp freshness of the winter glut of citrus fruits. Mandarin Mandarine. Arabie. Jo Malone's Pomegranate Noir.
    Suceeded by the need for warmth as winter slides in - and the transition to Le Maroc pour Elle, Habanita, Winter Delice......

    Did somebody say "short" paragraph? Impossible, since autumn is a season so full of variety!

  13. Anonymous03:29

    Dear E,

    The smell of autumn comes upon me suddenly one dark evening after a cold and sunny day. I lean in to the window because, after many weeks of living with the windows thrown wide open, it is finally too cold to bear and I must close it; but before I have that chance, the scent rushes in on me, almost like a slap. Although I smell it every year in autumn, I do not know where it comes from or what it is made of. Perhaps it is the soil exhaling its last warm breath before a long winter sleep. Perhaps it is the leaves on the trees already crisp and ready to fall. I do not know; it is almost indescribably beautiful. It is cold, smoky, clear and rich. Somewhat like incense, hay and dirt but also much more than that. It is the most bittersweet scent in the world; a reminder of one more summer forever gone but also a prelude to the festivities of the autumn and winter to come. I don't know what it is; I think it just smells like autumn.


  14. Autumn to me means smoky bonfire scents,chrysanthemum blooms, the decay of fallen leaves...
    Please enter me in the draw. Thanks so much for this!

  15. Autumn is my favorite season, and to me, the most closely linked to scent and much that relates to the start of the school year. The rich scent of leather (new shoes), smoky & earthy wood and leaves, the smell of new books and reams of paper. The tickle of chalk and Luden's cherry cough drops. Apples and cinnamon. Roasted squash and sage.
    My ultimate fall scents have to be SL Fumerie Turque and CB I Hate Perfume Burning Leaves.

  16. Well I almost cried... Rachaelg has written about the exact same thing I was going to write about: the scent of autumn on my cat's fur when she comes in from the cold! I congratulate her on her beautiful writing and, as a fellow cat lover, I hope she wins the samples. The only addition I can make from my life are the smells of the Fryeburg Fair in Maine, where we go every October. Maine woods, horse stalls, cotton candy, fried onions, caramel corn--all wafting about the cool evening air.

  17. Sometimes autumn feel like it's going to bring sadness with it - summer and warmth have ended and cooler, windy days are coming. But now it's here, I cannot but wonder at the colors and smells, even though I live in the city. I adore the crisp, cool sunny mornings that retain the fresh smell of still living grass and trees, but you can already scent the whispers of winter to come, and I love the warmth of the middle of the day when you can still scent the traces of summer dying. The air is no longer as humid as it was in the summer and you can feel on your tongue the dryness of leaves and the richness of autumn colors and trees in the parks (linden, oak and chestnut). And some car exhaust unfortunately. :)

  18. Because I teach at a college, Fall for me is equated with the start of a new school year.....and thusly, the smells of Fall that I am most familiar with have less to do with Nature and more to do with the warm, musky, and sweet, very human smells of young adults mixed incongruously with the aromas of an urban landscape.

    My lecture classes smell of old berber carpet - both stale and sickly sweet from years of sodas, juices and Doritos being ground in to it's fibers - mixed with a generic soapy musk smell of 10 different fabric softeners pushing their aromas into the air via body heat and light perspiration. Add a touch of candied fruitiness from gobs lip gloss and the bitter, sharp, chemical scent of Dry Erase Markers and you have the aroma that accosts me every Monday and Wednesday mornings from 9am to noon.

    My afternoon dance classes (I teach in the Performing Arts Department) are a bevy of unusual and, often times, "challenging" smells: pungent cheese and cooked onions mixed with cheap deodorant and watery, synthetic pear body spray, menthol and camphor (dancers are notoriously getting injured, so the odors of Ben Gay and muscle rubs often run rampant...), and the slightly sweetish and tangy "7-up" smell of fresh sweat, hot breath and melting hair products.

    That is what Fall smells like to me.

  19. Hm.

    There are lots of smells I can place, walking home from work in the fall at 6 am. Car exhaust and thin, blue threads of woodstove smoke, the musty smell of old wool, my sweaters recently pulled out of boxes I'd shoved deep into the back of my closet in the hopeful first-fit of warm spring.

    Fall is when my husband comes home from class with the cold in his beard, and I hold his jaw and press close and smell the sweet, cold, husband-smell of it. Most of my fall scents are James-related, because that's when we're cooped up close against the coming cold, vying for shoulder space over our little kitchen stove, arguing about who has to get up and dance barefoot across the icy floor to turn up the thermostat. So fall is the smell of his long Sunday baths, where he does his essay reading in the pungent Lavender Dr. Bronners humidity in the little closed bathroom. It's the smell of library books and more library books, stacked all over the table where I want to roll out my sweet rolls. It's the smell of his old mackinaw jacket, which carries the ghost of his hair when it was longer and that old, loose tobacco he stopped smoking years ago.

    I was pregnant in the fall. I would cocoon into our bed all day, seasick, the comforting steam of ginger tea on the side table. There is a special, fusty metallic smell to old VHS tapes; I would watch The Princess Bride over and over, with one, sleepy eye peering out from my cocoon. Fall was the smell of my friends hair when she crawled into bed with me as I lay down after a glass of juice, begging my reticent little baby to move. My friends hair was apple and vanilla-stinky, I loved it, and when the baby did a bend it like Beckham to my insides, we both squealed and I can still remember how much her smell was both good and chemically bad and the most comforting thing I could imagine at the time.

    Fall was the smell of Opium left behind in the foyer of the Outfitters that made me so suddenly, sharply homesick for my mother, I cried a little in front of the kayak display while my husband looked on, wide-eyed, caught in the uncertainty of dealing with a heavily pregnant woman crying and blubbering over perfume in the late fall afternoon at the kayak display in the Outfitters like it was the end of the world.

  20. Oh, ahaha! I was much too late! I just realized this morning. Well anyhow, thanks for helping me get back to writing! I'd been having trouble.


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