WEDNESDAY MILWAUKEE PROVIDES NEW SCENTS TO GO
Even before boarding the train in Wisconsin, Id harvested perfumes. It just so happens the Blush boutique sits directly across the Milwaukee River from the Amtrak station, so I popped in long enough to buy some Lucy B. Pink Frangipani
and to sample Tiare Coconut
on one wrist and Australian Wild Jasmine
on the other. PF is so sweet and natural, it could be a breakfast juice. TC and AWJ are just okay in comparison. Despite being composed of pure extracts of plants, trees, fruit, and herbsusually predictors of brief longevitythese fragrances will last 24 hours. While checking out, I related where I was headed, and the lovely SA Sarah loaded me up with Diptyque
samples, including the new Vetyverio
! I need to do more testing, but my first impression is generally positive.
THURSDAY/FRIDAY FRAMINGHAM, DANVILLE AND A MIX OF PLEASURES
Thursday night my friend Nick rescued me from the train tracks in Framingham, Mass. Although Ive known him for more than 10 years and have worked on landscape-related publications with him, this was our first meeting. He proved as kind, smart and charismatic as I might hope. Friday morning he guided me through the legendary Garden in the Woods
. Being as familiar with a native plant sale table as I am the perfume counter, I was happy to see familiar potted plants on display at the sites entrance. I asked what I assumed to be two employees if I could take their photo as a tourists memento. They grinned willingly. As it turned out, theyre fellow Milwaukee suburbanites. (Go figure.) Nick also gave me a tour of a home landscape hes been developing and a landscape he installed at the Mount Auburn Cemetery
, built on extreme terrain and imbued with an unparalleled view of Boston. (Overt promotion: If youd like Nick to provide a similar tour experience, I know hed accommodate interested parties as his schedule permits. Those in the area in need of a landscape consultant, designer, installer, and/or maintainer would do well to take advantage of this ecologically minded soul. Can you tell I prize this person, his skills and values?)
PALMED OFF ON POMANDER:
Pomander arrived to collect me from the cemetery just as rain began to fall. Enough time for a hug and snapshot with Nick before heading to Brielles. I know Pomander has developed herself as a person, but I cant help but believe she was gifted at conception with a lush and languid quality that beautifies any space she enters. She could get by in life just working her charms, but I was delighted to learn she applies her brain in laudable scientific work. You will find her ever carrying cylinders of Chanel, like a diabetic reliant on insulin. Dont you just love it?
LA MAISON DE BRIELLE:
I hardly know how to begin talking about the home I had the privilege to live in for two days with Brielle and family. Ill show you just a few snaps of dozens I shot. I thought Id caught every historic detail my husband would want to see, but it was pointed out to me that he would have appreciated a closeup of the nail heads on the floor boards.
Of course there was food. Good lord, there was food. The gustatory moment Ill forever remember though, is when Brielles best friend, Diana, walked up and put a buttercream frosting-covered half strawberry in my mouth. Exquisite.
Heres the sexy part youve been waiting for
see that cabinet in the corner opened teasingly? Thats where Brielle has transported a portion of her collection (shes in the process of moving can you believe someone whos willing to entertain guests in the midst of a move?!). And thats where SMM, Ubu, Pomander and I experienced scent odysseys from which we returned with treasures. Without reserve, Brielle and Diana decanted and labeled samples for us. Belle Epoque
? Unfricking believable, right? This much fun should be illegal, and, from the looks of us sitting on the floor, huffing and sniffing, youd have thought our activity was just that.
SATURDAY ~ DOING BOSTON
Honestly, while I had a want-to-sniff list, it was too hard to concentrate on scent when seeing Boston and a dozen Basenoters all at once and for the first time. As you know, BNers are not ordinary, and this group included an all-star cast with characters chock-full of life force. As it happens, most are crusaders working noble deeds bettering medical, emotional, and societal ills. I did buy Mitsouko
edp at Saks as planned, but Id rather have spent that money at Neiman-Marcus because they were the most gracious in looking after us with champagne and cheeses and shrimp. I hereby resolve, and suggest to you, that when given the option, shop N-M first!
Only do BNers recognize that this does NOT mean talk to the hand.
SUNDAY ~ ON THE (RAIL)ROAD AGAIN
(Ubuandibeme remains my favorite model.)
Now four days away from home and besieged with stimulation, I used the early morning hours to shower and pull my stuff and myself together, to photograph Brielles home by morning light, and to revisit her fragrance cabinet in quiet reverence before my exhausted hosts could even stir from their bed. Sensing myself and the moment as too delicate for any of the many grand blends, eyes and nose drifted down through the shelves until meeting the box simply labeled Lily. A sniff of the nozzle, and I knew this is what would parallel my mood. Not even aiming for skin, I sprayed into the air and let a modicum of molecules settle down on my head and shoulders. It was a perfect choice.
Some coffee, heartfelt discussion, and a flutter of activity got me to the train station just in time to leave Boston midday, regretfully missing Neil Morris and more fun with these interesting people. Once ensconced in sleeper accommodations, I could finally review all that had been put in my hands. Aboard the jostling train I studied the gifts from my friends (save one which, according to Brielle, I was not to open until I got home) and the many samples from the stores, and arranged them on my suitcase for an all-inclusive photo. One of the Atelier postcards even seemed to represent my natural-world exploration with Nick. After capturing the collective visual essence in the camera, I unwrapped my bottle of Mitsouko and partook of a small inaugural spray (not wanting to affect the next occupant of roomette #9). It smelled heavenly.
MONDAY ~ CHICAGO
The ride home was pleasant, although I still couldnt bring myself to sleep on schedule. Arriving in Chicago, I met up with my sweet husband. We chose to just walk about and not try to take in too much, since I was feeling a mite drained. I had to show him the Merz Apothecary subdivision within Macys if, for no other reason, to at least see the varied antique showcases they use to house their wares. (Okay, so I did trial a shot of Diptyque Jardin Clos
.) We sampled the citys sights, but had a hard time making sense of an open lot with architectural debris, some of it charred. Turns out this is staging for an upcoming shoot for the next Transformers movie.
My pets and the mosquitoes demonstrated delight in my return home. I unpacked all Id toted half way cross country and ceremoniously pulled off the tissue paper from the mystery box Brielle had pushed into my bag. It was the Christian Dior Lily! Its the best lily-of-the-valley to my nose, surpassing my pricey Comme des Garcons Lily. Looking for its register in the Basenotes directory, I have to laugh at the review there that starts out Too green for the umpteenth time, someone else has to point out to me that something I like has obvious green qualities. I always fail to note it.
My thanks to Brielle for many things and to her husband Nate, mother Doris, and Bichon Frisé Gigi for making me feel so at home. SMM, I doubly adore you. Hugs again to everyone. If I had more time, Id say all the things Im thinking about you. Thank you for rides, samples, hugs, and conversations.THE NEXT BASENOTES MEET UP
If no one cares to challenge me, Ill volunteer to coordinate for New Orleans in 2011 Im thinking autumn, when the weather shouldnt be too hot. NOLA has a Saks Fifth Avenue where we could check out the new fall releases, but its the perfumeries on Bourbon Street that warrant the pilgrimage.