my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


On This Memorial Day: What I Know

I have often noted in this blog how little I knew of my father. He left my family of origin under a cloud of infidelity, domestic violence and alcoholism.

I loved my father. Adored him. Against all accusations thrown at him in absentia, and despite his apparent desertion, I was his sole defender.

I still am.

So, this Memorial Day weekend, I share the spare memories I have of his heroism during World War II.

Truth be told, I don't absolutely know that he was heroic. What I know is that he did what he was told to do, in ugly circumstances that involved tropical jungle, mud and blood.

I know, from reading his service record, that he was wounded and brave, according to parameters established by the military; I saw documentation of a Bronze star and a Purple Heart.

Long ago I saw yellowed photographs, grabbed away from me when he saw what I was looking at, of naked men, their heads at odd angles, hanging from makeshift gallows in a clearing surrounded by palms and coconut trees.

I saw pictures of his Air Force squad in jungle camouflage -- I think I remember they were wearing this -- with arms around each other, cigarettes hanging out of their mouths and rolled into their shirtsleeves.

I know he was in Burma. In Korea. Later on Guam. Wake. Midway.

The last three places I saw first hand as a five year old when we as a family made our way west to his post in the Phillipines, more than ten years after the yellowed snapshot had been taken.

I told you I don't know much.

This is what I know: that he, like many fathers, didn't talk about the things in his past of which he was ashamed.

But I know that he loved this country, and defended it as he was asked to do.

For that alone, I can be grateful. And I am.

Today's fragrance is a review redux dedicated to Kate:

Guerlain's L'Heure Bleue was introduced in 1912 (designed by third-generation perfumer Jacques Guerlain) and my inclination is to say it smells like it. Very old fashioned but very beautiful. I can imagine the scent wafting around a cloche-clad woman waving goodbye, sending Johnny off to fight the war to end all wars.

Literally, "The Blue Hour" -- which I suppose is twilight, or it could be the deep blue chill of dawn -- the scent is a bit sad, a bit plaintive -- wistful, poignant. Yes, romantic.Stated notes are anise seed, bergamot, carnation, violet, rose, neroli, tonka bean, iris, benzoin, balsam, vanilla. Some sources state tuberose is in there, too, as are heliotrope and musk.The florality is very much there -- I can detect carnation, violet and rose -- and the powdery drydown is weightily pleasant. Another serious fragrance. I like serious.

But my favorite reference to L'Heure Bleue is a quasi literary one: In Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, this is Claire Fraser's perfume. There's a wonderful scene in which she brushes her hair to a state of static cling and pours the fragrance on her hands, which she then uses to fragrantly smooth down her hair.Since I adore that character, it's a wonderful association of scent with a timeless woman, a woman independent yet ultimately feminine. A transcendent woman of substance.

L'Heure Bleue is perfect for her.


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