The sounds, dissected music like a corpse,
Proved harmony by algebra. And then,
Then only did I dare, with all my lore,
Yield to the bliss of my creative fancy.
A. Pushkin, Mozart and Salieri
In celebration of this Valentine’s Day I brought you a bouquet of the rose stories. They all can be described by a simple linear equation:
Where x is “a single rose stem” and y is “a colored glass container.” Changing parameters A and B I got three different results.
Ax + By = A Genetic Mystery
One of the rose bushes in my grandmother’s garden bloomed with big dark red flowers with velvety petals. They had a very light and unremarkable aroma but were extremely beautiful and, judging by the reaction of grown-ups, very rare. I don’t remember seeing anywhere else such roses. Or apples, apricots, cherries, tomatoes and many other agricultural wonders. It was a matter of fact that most of my classmates, who was growing in the big city without any relatives in villages or smaller towns, had never seen fruits or vegetables of that quality. But as a child I had never thought of how it came that my grandparents, who lived in a small town in a single family house with some land, had the best produce in the neighborhood where everybody grew those plants – I just was very proud of it. Now I realize that they both were big enthusiasts who were actively seeking good cultivars for plants they wanted to grow and spent a lot of time taking care of them. It was their hobby and they did it in addition to their regular jobs – he was a plant foreman and she was a surgical nurse. And probably thanks to their avocation, unlike many kids, I grew up loving fruits. But I was talking about roses.
As many beautiful things are, this rose was very fickle: it didn’t want to propagate through the cuttings. It didn’t reject the idea outright but it never produced the offspring of the same deep color. From everything I know about this method, it shouldn’t have happened but I saw it once with my own eyes and heard my grandmother’s neighbors and friends’ complaints that their new roses weren’t the same as on my grandmother’s rosebush. Of course, they didn’t grow to be yellow roses with divine scent but you would not be confused that they came from another bush. The picture below is the closest to the color I remember but the shape was different.
A = “dark red”, B = “painted mason jar”: “A single stem of the dark red rose from Grandma’s bush under a painted mason jar” = an unexplainable evolution phenomenon.
Perfume to match: Amouage Lyric. When I wear this perfume I think of the beautiful and capricious rose that I saw last several decades ago and still remember. I wonder if a bottle in RL has that nice deep red color as on pictures. I think it’ll look nice on my shelf…
Ax + By = Lesson Learned
The second variety that grew in Grandma’s garden was a Tea Rose. Whereas it didn’t look as gorgeous as the whimsical dark red one it smelled wonderful and I remember it being used in conserves and home-made liqueurs. Have you ever tried rose petal conserve? The taste is nice but not too interesting: it is mainly sugar syrup with rose flavor. But the texture is very unusual: petals get soft during the cooking but they keep some residual firmness. Natural home-made rose petal conserves have light amber color and taste better than they look.
If instead of cooking rose petals were left to ferment (I saw the process many times but was too little to remember the sequence of adding water and sugar) and later fortified with alcohol, the result was a very tasty and beautiful dark-pink colored liqueur. I was allowed to taste some before Grandma would add alcohol.
One of the first perfume experiences in my life was using rose oil. I don’t remember if it was available where I lived but in the smaller town where I spent summers at my grandparents’ you could buy a tiny 1 ml vials on a card with Bulgarian Rose Oil. It wasn’t too expensive: I think you could have it for the price of two ice cream cones. But one can be expected to forfeit only that many ice cream cones…
Tea rose in the garden smelled very similar to the last drop of the rose oil in my vial and since I observed my grandmother’s dealing with all those petals – how hard could it be to make my own perfume?! I picked the most scent rich flower from the bush, tore off the petals, put them in a small cobalt glass jar (somehow I knew that it shouldn’t be transparent) and left for several days to steep. It smelled rather nice during the first day and I had high hopes for the end product… When a week later my grandmother explained (as much as she could – I was 10) the disappointing result of my experiment and bought me another rose oil vial, she allowed me to throw away the jar without trying to clean it. It was the last time in my life when I experimented with making my own perfumes.
A = “tea rose”, B = “cobalt glass jar”: “tea rose steeped for a week in a cobalt glass jar” = I still love blue bottles but will stick to buying “ready-to-wear” perfumes.
Perfume to match: Lancôme Mille et Une Roses. Many years ago a friend shared with me a decant of this perfume. She said it wasn’t as good as the original 2000 et Une Rose but I liked it. Since then I’ve added a bottle to my collection. The color of the juice mesmerizes me and even though real blue color is unobtainable for the roses (we won’t count dyed white ones or genetically engineered with blueish hue), the beautiful peppery rose of Mille et Une Roses doesn’t smell artificial.
Ax + By = An Improvised Holiday Decoration
When moving overseas with limited luggage allowance one has to choose carefully what to pack and what to leave behind. Among other things, bringing which was completely out of question, were vases with which I grew up. Those were massive cut crystal vases that alone would have sent our suitcases into the excess baggage category.
When it’s your first apartment in the new country and you need to buy pots and pans and plates and cutlery and bedding and … everything, vases aren’t high on the list. So at least for the first several years the only vases I had were those free ones that came with premade bouquets. One day when I came across Moselland Cat Bottle Riesling, I bought two bottles – white and black – just for bottles themselves. Wine was perfectly drinkable (back then, I’m not sure if I would think so today) and bottles moved with me as we changed apartments.
With A = “red” and B = “white cat bottle” you get “red rose in a white cat bottle” – a romantic single rose bouquet, which is good for any occasion but especially for Valentine’s Day. A = “black artificial” and B = “black cat bottle” result in the perfect Halloween decoration.
Perfume to match: Les Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Amour. It is not a big favorite in the Perfumeland, you’ll find maybe a couple of reviews and those aren’t too glowing. But I loved it the first time I smelled it in the store, tested it for a while, bought a bottle six months later (which is really fast for me) and enjoy wearing it almost every time I put it on (it doesn’t work in hot humid weather).
There are many other rose perfumes that I like and wear so one day I’ll add their stories to the bouquet. What about you? Do you have any rose [perfume] stories to share?
Images: dark red rose from here, all others my own.