Friday, October 21, 2011

still-sound 12. Rose

I've developed an affinity for roses.  I never really gave them much mind in the past - although one of my first memories involved my sister and me plucking numerous petals and stuffing them into tupperware in an attempt to make perfume.  Our second attempt to make perfume prompted us to pick handfuls of juniper berries from the bush next to our house.  We crushed them into a pulp and left the bowl out overnight to 'freshen the air'.  When we woke up the next morning the air above the juniper-room-freshener was black with swarming flies. I'm still amazed that our mom let us do all of this.  I think she's always had a secret fascination with scent as well.

In the last few years I found myself gravitating towards the scent of roses.  The lemony smell of tea roses.  The heavy perfume of blood-red, velvet damask roses.  When we lived in Long Beach I bought a rose hybrid called Lincoln.  The smell was very antique - almost identical to a hand lotion that came in a pink bottle that my mom used to soften her hands when she finished styling customers' hair in the salon where she worked in the 70s.

I discovered a white hybrid at the garden center in Long Beach called Pope John Paul.  It was, perhaps, the perfect rose scent - but I knew that we'd be moving back to LA so I resisted buying and planting the papal rootstock.

I know a cool woman from Chicago named Francine who collects pure perfume oils.  I see her from time to time - when she has something new and wonderful for me to smell.  Last week she gave me a little vial of pure essential oil extracted from a taif rose named after the Sultan of Brunei.  The decant came from a bottle she acquired nine years ago. She insisted I keep it despite my protestations - apparently another bottle was somewhere in the post for her, and soon she'd have more of this oil than she'd ever have use for.  I kept it, because she insisted and because it smelled so irresistibly indulgent.  A silver, herbal geranium-tinged taif rose.  I dab it on the full bloom rose tattooed on my forearm.  Like a scratch and sniff sticker except not a sticker and no scratch.

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