Sunday, May 13, 2007

A rose speaks of love silently...

A tribute to women, roses and perfume
'Noteworthy Fragrances' is dedicated to my beloved mother, Evelyn and to all mothers, who like the rose, have left their fragrance in the memory of our soul, never to be forgotten.
“The rose speaks of love silently, in a language known only to the heart."

A Mother's Love
author unknown
A mother's love determines how
we love ourselves and others.
There is no sky we'll ever see not
lit by that first love.
Stripped of love, the universe would
drive us mad with pain;
But we are born into a world that greets

our cries with joy.
How much I owe you for the kiss
that told me who I was!
The greatest gift, a love of life
lay laughing in your eyes.
Because of you my world still has
the soft grace of your smile;
And every wind of fortune bears
the scent of your caress.
"The scent of your caress" beckons us to begin our journey and a brief disclaimer is in order here; I do not pretend to be either an expert or a seasoned perfumista. My baby steps to discover and recognize the mysterious and often complex 'notes' of a perfume cause me to rely on the seasoned experience of others and for that experience I am grateful.

My vision for your visit to Noteworthy Fragrances can best be seen as approaching a gently worn wicker settee in a fragrant flower garden, curling up with a soft afghan and spending a few minutes in dreamy quietness. In this fragrance comfort zone, you make new discoveries, you recall fond memories of your childhood scents and perhaps develop a longing for the new and yet untried.

What will you find when you visit Noteworthy Fragrances? A different approach to niche and boutique perfumes and their designers. A different way of reviewing fragrances; just because my personal chemistry fails to appreciate a certain scent, doesn’t mean it couldn't be your next ‘holy grail'..."I'll wear this 'till I die" fragrance.

So get your coffee mug, your glass of Chardonnay, a tall glass of sweet tea, (or maybe all three if you're staying long enough) and let's begin.

My first fragrance memory goes back to visiting my Grandma, when I was 9 years old. I loved going to church with her and always hoped she would have that scented hankie with crocheted lace edging tucked away in her Bible. The fragrance was very floral, very 'rose like' and even now, as I write this, I'm at her side once again. Grandma loved English Rose by Yardley and having lived during the Depression, Grandma was very frugal. To survive, there was no other way to live. This truly was her singular luxury that was treasured as the most precious personal item she owned. Each Saturday evening, she would take her hankie, wash it by hand in the chipped kitchen basin and then sprinkle three, maybe four drops of English Rose perfume onto the hankie. Her soft gentle hands would then smooth it out on a tea towel to dry.

After it dried, she would press it carefully with her steam iron and almost miraculously, her tiny home would be filled with an aroma of the most beautiful rose fragrance. I asked her one Sunday why she only used the rose perfume on her hankie and she smiled at me and said, “Darling, the roses remind me that my tears won't fall forever.” I didn’t understand what she meant as a little girl, but somehow she imparted to me a special wisdom and I believe it was this; the rose fragrance gave her hope of a happier time to come when her tears overwhelmed her. It was her way of embracing both joy and sorrow simultaneously.

Grandma had several miniature perfume bottles on her dressing table and I spent hours rearranging them according to size, or to the color of perfume in the tiny bottles, but most frequently I would line them up like little ballerina dancers as I twirled them across the dresser scarf.

The first perfume purchase that I recall, was probably at about the same age, when I walked into Kresge's dime store in Wichita, Kansas to buy a birthday present for my mother. With only about 20 pennies in my purse I confidently asked the clerk to reach the small blue oval shaped bottle of Evening in
Paris for me
. I'm referring to the signature cobalt blue bottle of cologne produced by Bourjois that just about anyone over the age of 45 will likely remember. What surprised me most was the return of Evening in Paris, now called the oh so elegant, "Soir de Paris." If you wait long enough, everything old is new again. It's available at many retail locations, but one with particular charm is the Vermont Country Store.

For something just a little different throughout this blog, you'll find a 'mystery hunt'. The first correct answer submitted will be the winner of my favorite rose perfume samples. Here is mystery hunt #1: "I am a rose of great classic beauty that will hold its own with the best of them. My color is unique and yet hard to describe. I call it apricot and softest orange. Please give me plenty of direct sun and only feed me once as the growing season begins. I grow five inch double blooms with a sweet fragrant scent on a bushy plant with mid-green leathery foliage. I bloom from early spring until a killer frost gently puts me to sleep for the winter. I was introduced to the world in 1978 by Dr. Griffin Buck.
Who am I?"

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." The famous question posed by Juliet from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet sets the stage for our exploration into why the rose was considered to be the queen of all flowers and when the queen of flowers is in the garden, all others bow their head in submission and honor.

Roses have a long and colorful history. They have been symbols of love, beauty, war, and politics. In nature, the genus Rosa has some 150 species spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, from Alaska to Mexico and including northern Africa. Garden cultivation of roses began some 5,000 years ago, probably in China. During the Roman period, roses were grown extensively in the Middle East. They were used as confetti at celebrations, for medicinal purposes, and as a source of perfume. Roman nobility established large public rose gardens in the south of Rome. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the popularity of roses seemed to rise and fall depending on gardening trends of the time.

During the fifteenth century, the rose was used as a symbol for the factions fighting to control England. The white rose symbolized York, and the red rose symbolized Lancaster, and as a result, the conflict became known as the "War of the Roses." Roses were in such high demand during the seventeenth century that royalty considered roses or rose water as legal tender, and they were often used as barter and for payments. Napoleon's wife Josephine established an extensive collection of roses at Chateau de Malmaison, an estate seven miles west of Paris in the 1800's. This garden became the setting for Pierre Joseph Redoute's work as a botanical illustrator. In 1824, he completed his watercolor collection "Les Rose,"which is still considered one of the finest records of botanical illustration. It wasn't until the late eighteenth century that cultivated roses were introduced into Europe from China. Most modern day roses can be traced back to this ancestry.

It has been estimated that 150 million plants are purchased by gardeners worldwide every year, and sophisticated breeding programs have produced a plant that dominates the world's cut flower market; the annual crop is calculated in tons. Roses have also made a tremendous contribution to the perfume industry. To obtain just a single kilogram of pure rose essential oil takes 6 tons of petals.

"Perfume has a power to persuade that is more convincing than words, than appearances, sentiment or willpower. You cannot say no to the persuasive power of perfume." Patrick Susking

And now you are cordially invited to step into a world of beauty, contentment and personal peace to meet my friend Dorothy McCall, owner of Kingsbury Fragrances.

You can't meet Dorothy and not have the feeling that you are in the presence of someone very special. Learning more about Dorothy, I discovered something quite charming that we had in common. Our beloved Grandmothers introduced us to the captivating scents they personally enjoyed. As little girls, we lived in a world of ‘make believe’ and ‘when I grow up.’ Dorothy was privileged to have not only her Grandmother’s love of the elegant, but remembers the fragrant flower gardens her mother kept of Scented Stock, Sweet Peas, Honeysuckle, Gardenias and Roses.

Dorothy would take the freshly cut flowers and meticulously arrange colorful bouquets creating beautiful vases for each room. The combination of her Grandmother’s sachets, her Mother’s green thumb and a certain young man who gave her Shalimar as her first ‘important’ bottle of perfume when she was 15, all became catalytic to her desire to explore, define and ultimately launch Kingsbury Fragrances.
Dorothy’s love of travel led her to Provence, France for a retreat that she recounts as being one of the highlights of her life. Classes were taught by the great perfu
me masters of the world from morning till night and were all part of the process in defining her own destiny as a perfumer. While on tour in Grasse, the Mecca of great perfumers, Dorothy realized that
the most profound of all her teachers were the oils, absolutes, resins, spices and fragrance oils that she had experimented with all the years before. Her epiphany came when the scents she passionately loved blended together in one magical moment that birthed her first fragrance Tres Bon.

Shortly after the infamous 9/11 attack on our country Dorothy says, “I was crying every day as so many of us were. I couldn't stop crying, the grief was overwhelming and relentless. Out of that traumatic grief emerged a wellspring of creativity that drove me into developing new fragrances, creating soap, hunting for packaging, designing labels, creating text, and on and on. I created so much that my dining room was overflowing with products and fragrance was taking over the apartment. Needless to say a new company was born and became Kingsbury Fragrances."

"As a result of all this creativity, my emotional, physical and spiritual worlds came into balance. I became happy and energized again. I often talk to my clients about creativity being a force for healing. When they find a passion for themselves they are happy and fulfilled also." Dorothy balances her professional vocation as a social worker by continued research and development of aromatherapy oils that provide adjunct treatment in a unique complimentary way to her clients.

Reading the delightful review of Spring Sniffapalooza, by Juvy Santos will give you insight into Dorothy's kindred spirit. She gave a special presentation at the April 1st luncheon which was overwhelmingly received. Not only did she share the Kingsbury Fragrances dream, she also shared the fruits of her labor by presenting gifts of her oils, soaps and perfumes to those attending.

Twilight Rose is best described by Dorothy; “Day is meeting Night and surrendering to the gradual enveloping darkness. It is cool and a few stars are captured in the darkest part of the descending night. The floral aroma is fresh, cool and green. Although I am still, I can smell the perfume moving all around me. Twilight Rose blends in a floral symphony with Rose Otto, Citrus, Clary Sage, Narcissus, Green Leaves, Vetiver, Musk and Civet."

When I wear Twilight Rose, my personal vision becomes a full blown rose, picked when the evening dew has fallen. The open petals bow beneath the weigh of the dew releasing whispers of the soft earthy notes of Clary Sage and Vetiver. You instinctively know that Twilight Rose is an ethereal rose fragrance with an honest expression of the entire rose; not just the delicate fragrance from the petals alone. Twilight Rose lets you experience the evening dew, the leaves, the stem, the roots and even the earth. This is the fragrance that dreams are made of! Once you wear her fragrances, you are a believer in her expertise as a perfumer.

Dorothy, I hope your trip to Italy was incredibly wonderful! Tell us all about it soon.

Dr. Dorothy McCall is currently involved in private practice for individual, conjoint and family therapy and counsels in the field of chemical dependency. Dr. McCall is listed in the “Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Women, Who's Who in Emerging Leaders in America, and Who's Who in Medicine and Health Care”. She is a certified aromatherapist as well as the owner and perfumer for Kingsbury Fragrances in Pittsburgh, PA and devotes all of her free time to Kingsbury Fragrances creating new perfumes and products.Commentary and photos used with permission by Dorothy McCall.

Visit Dorothy and Kingsbury Fragrances for additional information.

Commentary and illustrations for roses were provided by University of Illinois Extension.

Join me tomorrow in a continuing review of rose fragrances. May you be a sweet fragrance to all you love.