It is winter.
This may or may not be clear to you, or even true for you. But here, where I sit, the temperature on the other side of the window is below freezing, a blanket of snow covers the ground, it in turn covered by a crust of partially thawed then certainly refrozen ice. There is still enough of the powder to make it pretty, but the ratio of ice makes it the kind of environment you step into gingerly, testing the traction, making sure you can get your footage.
As it turns out, there was just enough thaw yesterday to soften it up, so that the sheen is indeed slippery, but has some give. You still need to be alert, but you can relax a bit. Enjoy the walk. See the landscape as beautiful, because there's a little bit of cush under that crust.
This is the texture of Heure Exquise.
Drop the temperature a few degrees, and there's no hint of plush. That is the texture of Iris Bleu Gris.
Have you ever had a perfectly made shortbread, where the crumble was right even as it veered dangerously close to too dry? Where the amount of butter used was enough to let those fatty molecules hover around your tongue without obscuring all other flavors, letting the slightest hints of sugar caramelized by the heat of the oven come through?
Have you ever heard of a flavoring called Fiori di Sicilia? An extract you can use in baking, a la vanilla or orange, which some call a citrus vanilla but which really rings of a field of flowers? Try to conjure it even if you haven't; if you have smelled it, remember it. Got it? Now, a hint of that in the shortbread.
And shoot the whole thing through with orris root. Or maybe wash the shortbread down with orris tea, should such a thing exist.
This is a dream shortbread, and is the flavor of Heure Exquise.
I love wearing perfumes in winter. I love listening to them in the same way you hear sounds across a snowy landscape: overall input is attenuated, but specific qualities or registers carry further than ever. There is both a hush, and an amplification; if nature were an auditorium, the outdoors in winter is full of both sound absorbing baffles and chutes that channel input straight to your ears.
A light wind through a few tenacious leaves on an otherwise bare tree across the way. Laughter on the other side of the park. A train in the distance. You can hear it all, and still feel ensconced in a cocoon that makes you feel like you just might be all, entirely, wholly alone.
Perfect for listening to your feet in the snow and gauging the temperature based on amount and quality of crunch and smoosh.
Also wonderful for listening to the smell of things. Even inside, the quality of smell "acoustics" is different in winter.
While I now know I am going to love Heure Exquise any time of year, and that I am NOT going to become impatient and assume it is on its dying away drydown two hours in, because four hours in a surprise powdery beauty will emerge...while I now know that in the middle I will be rewarded with a green smooth floral something that will feel lovely in the heat...while I now know I will find this beauty any time of year, I may not have fallen in love unless I played with it in winter. When it sounded different, and I could pay attention differently.
photo by Matheson Beaumont, available for purchase here
I have gotten Fiori di Sicilia from King Arthur Flour