One Thousand Scents

Sunday, May 28, 2006

On The Road, Part 1

The source of my happiness, and unease.

Last year, according to my other blog, the lilacs were at the height of their flowering on June 9th. This year they were just starting to appear as we left for Montréal on May 21st and today, on our return, are just getting over the hill (fully flowered, with maybe 10% starting to rot), which means they're two weeks early. Global warming or natural variation? All I know is that when I was a young'un, the lilacs were the first harbingers of summer, just as the crocuses meant spring was well and truly underway, and if the lilacs think that May 25th or so is summer, I'm just a little worried.

When we arrived in Montreal, the lilacs were already over the hill; their smell had faded and they were about half rotted, which means they flowered a week earlier than here, which is also strange and worrisome. But at least here I have a day or two here to enjoy them, by which I mean "walk past a lilac bush, grab a handful of flowers and shove them into my face, inhale, sigh blissfully". Oh, they are wonderful.


Total number of scents sniffed in the last week: 50? 75? 100?
Total number of samples bagged: 2.
Total number of scents bought: 0.

I tried just about everything while I was away, and found that everything I had been interested in trying could be divided into four categories:

Things That Are No Longer Available
Things I Anticipated And Was Sorely Disappointed By
Things That Were Pleasant But Not Enough To Compel Me To Buy
Things I Will Probably Consider In The Future When The Trip Is Paid For

I'll get to the second through fourth in the next few days, but let's look at that vaguely Borgesian first category of things that weren't there. Montréal used to be a top-notch scent-shopping city, and I don't know what happened, but the variety and quantity has dropped appallingly. Simons used to carry some terrific scents, including Comme des Garçons and Demeter, and now either they don't have a fragrance department at all or I just couldn't find it; we gave up after ten minutes of wading through the crowds. (It looks like a Woolworths but has really high-end stuff; I looked at the price tag for a Costume National jacket that was a mind-bending $1000. Mind-bending for me, anyway.) I had hoped to try, and probably pick up a couple of, the CdG Series scents--definitely Carnation, possibly one of the Incense or Sweet scents. Ogilvy used to have a Comptoir Sud Pacifique boutique: gone, and I had so wanted to sample the new Vanille Citrus. (They still carry L'Artisan Parfumeur, but didn't have the much-anticipated Fou d'Absinthe, which isn't out until June.) They don't carry any Caron any more, either, and I was dying to try Poivre. Holt Renfrew was another colossal disappointment: their fragrance department in Toronto is huge and they'd always had a really big selection in Montréal, too, but now it's pitifully diminished. (The Holt Renfrew in Ottawa is even worse.)

So I guess I have three options. One, buy things unsmelled, which is always dicey at best. Two, try to get more samples and decants by mail, which is expensive (though not as expensive as buying unknown scents). Or three, travel only to cities with decent shopping.

There is a fourth option: be happy with what I've already got or can get locally. That's never going to happen, though.


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