Sunday, June 17, 2018

Intimate


There is a box of decants that I kept from the days when perfume trading was fun and exciting, and collecting more vials than I will ever need in my lifetime didn't feel burdensome. There was the thrill of the hunt, and the wonderful feeling of being taken care of when someone you only knew by their screen name and fragrance wardrobe sent you a surprise in the mail with vintage perfumes that smelled like nothing you ever smelled before... That was of course, before I smelled too many perfumes, before each year offered over 500 new releases, and I became too jaded and selective about what I put under my nose.

In a moment of olfactory boredom last night, I unearthed a roll-on with vintage Intimate in its vintage form (Revlon, 1955). The concentration is not specified, but judging from it lasting well into the next morning, I imagine it's at least an eau de toilette.

Intimate is a softly-spoken echo Miss Dior's green-floral-animalic-Chypre; a hazy mirror image of its New Look glam. There are green aldehydes at the top, but they've lost their sharp edge (possibly through aging and mellowing, but even still, comparing to the vintage Miss Dior I have they are less intense).

Intimate is definitely from the same genre (Chypre Floral Animalic, and sporting some definitive green notes), yet has a softer, powderier character right from the the start (a trait that is only evident in Miss Dior if you really pay close attention somewhere around the second act). It has edgy, woody-herbaceous notes peeking underneath, making the greenery less obvious. There is an aldehdic wisp at the opening as well. Mingled with the orris this creates a blending illusion, like smudging and blending pastel crayons that obscures the shapes of jasmine and rose that were just drawn moments ago. One can't quite tell when the jasmine and rose end and the oakmoss, sandalwood and cedarwood begin. The woods create a dry feel, a sort of temporary cleanliness. An animalic power roars from underneath, with the carcass of castoreum and the concentrated piss of civet create a dark, musky-sweet epilogue.

This phase dissipates faster than I would have liked it to, turning into a vintage Revlon lipstick scent, like the ones I would try on from my grandmother's dresser. My grandma always dressed elegantly, so lipstick was the only way to tell she's going somewhere importatn (work included, and she worked well into her 70s, and continued freelancing even after she officially retired). And if it was somewhere social, there will also be a dap of perfume or some Eau de Cologne splashing. I never was happy with any of her shades of lipstick - they were either too red or too nude, and most importantly, made my lips dry and tasted awful. The smell is nice and nostalgic, but synthetic fatty-violet-rose-aldehydic floral is not something I'd like tasting on my lips for too long.

The drytdown (as observed the next morning) has a sweet and smooth amber and a musk compound that bears some fruity, berry-like qualities. Oakmoss is still there as well as a hint of greenery. Overall, there is a soft, close-to-the-skin feeling that's exactly what I would like in a perfume from the night before: a sweet reminder that something wonderful happened last night, but without having all your clothes reeking of it or making you want to wash it off. You could easily apply something else on top, or go for a second round.

Intimate is beautifully constructed and elegant, and smells sexy in a down-to-earth kind of way. If I didn't know who made it I would think it is a French perfume - it skips the loud statements that American fragrances so often have (both in sillage and tenacity) and instead offers a more nuanced perfume that even if it isn't a groundbreaker for its time, it is very well done and wonderfully enjoyable. The bottle in the ad shown perfectly conveys its style and class, which will be evident even if you are blindfolded and can't see it. So while many perfume advertisements are total utter nonsense, this seems quite truthful indeed.

Top notes: Green Aldehydes, Bergamot
Heart notes: Jasmine, Rose, Orris, Cedarwood, Sandalwood
Base notes: Oakmoss, Civet, Castoerum, Musk, Amber

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Tuesday, June 05, 2018

On Cats & Cassis

Cassis Bush (Black Currants)

The cassis and cat-urine analogy is nothing new. But I have always found it puzzling. Perhaps because I can't say I ever smelled a cat pee. And judging by how their other secretions smell, no matter how deep in the sand they try to bury them - I don't really want to know. 

To me, blackcurrants (Ribes nigrum) have always been this peculiar, juicy yet funky berries, with sophisticated profile of very pungent odour that comes through the nose when eaten (or drank), a full-bodied aroma hiding behind it, yet contrasted again by a sharpness in the palate from their intense tangy taste - sour, if I'm allowed to use that word without offending anyone (I heard that vintners get particularly insulted if you use this to describe tart/tangy wines!). 

Turns out there is an explanation to this unsavoury association: blackcurrants contains several sulphuric compounds called thiols. Namely, we're looking at p-mentha-8-thiol-3-one, 4-methoxy-2-methyl-2-butanethiol and last but not least: 4-thio-4-methylpentan-2-one, which is identical to the compound found in fragrant feline urine. In fact, it is also called Cat Ketone! 

Although sulphur is one of the CHNOPS - the six elements that make up all compounds of organic chemistry (along with carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen), sulphur-containing compounds are not very common in perfumery ingredients. You are definitely familiar with sulphur compounds from the culinary worlds - sulphur is found in many edible foodstuffs, from staples such as eggs, garlic and onions to less obvious grapefruit and asafoetida (the latter is used as a substitute for garlic and onions among Buddhist monks that are forbidden from eating these lustful substances). 


In Europe, and especially Eastern Europe and Britain, cassis is a very popular flavour (and crop). In the USA - not so much (and there is a technical  explanation for that which has to do with a ban due to white pine blister rust as well in the article sited before). Generally speaking, blackcurrant bushes are susceptible to too many diseases and pests, and this is a problem that is constantly being a challenge to agricultural plants breeders. Another possible explanation for its popularity in Britain in particular is that in WWII, cassis syrup from local was distributed free of charge as a source for vitamin C, to counteract disease and malnutrition whilst the island was isolated and deprived from its citrus supplies from the continent. 

I've experienced it in teas, cordials, fruit juices (Ribena being a famous brand of those) and sodas, fruit wine (amazing!), liqueur (Créme de Cassis, Cassis Vodka and more) and cocktails (Kir Royale, anyone?), candy, and even as a flavour for pastilles of Bach's Rescue Remedy. Then there is the famous savoury condiment: Dijon grainy mustard with cassis (try them in a brie & pear sandwich!) I particularly enjoy blackcurrants as a flavouring for black tea, and also it works in teas and tisanes blended with elderflowers (which has some surprising berry qualities that echo those of cassis). It is also wonderful in desserts (of course!). One that left a life-long impression on me are Violet & Cassis macaron by Pierre Herme. I also love adding some Créme de Cassis liquor to upside-down cherry-chocolate cake, as well as to a blueberry-sour-cream tart. If I happen to have the berries I would also mix them along with the blueberries for interest (and also to mellow out the intensity of the blackcurrants). The fresh or frozen berries can be added to strudels, pies, tarts, crumble and coffeecakes. Jams, jellies and syrups are enjoyed in or on yoghurts, cheesecakes, puddings, custards such as the specialty Danish and North German desert Rødgrød. Try my recipe for Lavender-Violet-Cassis Cupcakes,

Lastly, their aromatic, slightly bitter and astringent, intensely tart qualities make blackcurrant a suitable companion to savoury dishes such as meat stews and roasts (lamb in particular), seafood and fish, and even in barbecue sauces. The leaves are used in Russia as a tisane, and to flavour pickles.
I must try them fresh in a salad with tomatoes and mint - this actually sounds divine. I am actually feeling inspired to try them in a (cooked) beet salad with onion, spearmint and balsamic vinegar. 
Cassis (Black Currants)
In perfumery, we don't use the berries, but rather the unopened buds, which are solvent-extracted to create to create blackcurrant buds absolute. This sticky, highly viscous liquid has a very dark green colour and is difficult to work with not just because of its challenging consistent, but because of the aroma profile: Intense, warm, pungent, fruity, berry-like scent. This note is often perceived as unpleasant, almost urinal when undiluted. It is only in high dilution that its delicious fruity cassis aroma comes out in its most appealing manner.

With all these challenges, it is invaluable in perfumery, because it is one of the few natural essences with a fruity aroma. Also it is unusual in that it is an animal top note! We use it in perfumes of the Floral Fruity and Chypre Fruity families as well oriental and gourmand compositions where a sparkling berry note is required. A little goes a long way with this intense absolute. Dilution to 50% in alcohol is recommended before using, especially if you're just beginning to work with this. This will help you both with the dosage and also to smell it more imaginatively. Even than, you will need only very little to add the unique cassis effect to your perfume. 

Cassis aboslute is a very, very, very light top note. So whomever does not like it can rest assured this phase in the perfume they're experiencing is sure to dissipate within minutes. For the bold accessory note that it is, you might find it surprising how widely it is used, and also how versatile it is. Because it has both fruity, animals and green aspects - it really can contribute something special to composition of almost any genre - Floral, Chypre, Green, Oriental...   

Blackcurrant buds absolute pairs particularly well with sulphur-containing grapefruit oil, rhubarb compounds, pineapple, strawberry and other fruit extracts, davana, cacao, ylang ylang, marigold (tagetes), vanilla, rose, galbanum, tomato leaf, boronia, violet leaf and most fruity citrus notes such as clementine, mandarin, blood orange, etc. It also works with animalic notes  such as civet, oud and beeswax absolute, giving them a lift to the top. 

Famous perfumes containing cassis: the wonderful Chamade (Guerlain), with its contrasting galbanum, vanilla, oakmoss and hyacinth. Van Clef & Arpel's First (designed by Jean Claude Elena) - I must stress that although it was marketed as such, it was absolutely not the first to use this raw material. Also Aqua Allegoria Pampelune, notorious for its sulphurous qualities; l'Ombre Dans l'Eau (Diptyque) which is intensely green and rosy; AnaïsAnaïs (Cacharel), Black Orchid (Tom Ford), as well as troves of other "Fruitchoulis", Baby Doll (YSL), Ode a l'Amour (Yves Rocher), and Naomi Campbell's aptly named Cat Deluxe at Night. 
Among my perfumes, Tamya, Treazon, Coralle and H21 contain notable amounts of this ingredient. 

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Enfleurage Experiments

Enfleurage Fat
This spring, I have been experimenting with vegan enfleurage (the traditional enfleurage uses animal fats - ideally a combination of lard and tallow; which as a vegetarian I'm not interested in using). I tried different vegan fats (oils that are solid at room temperature), which I slabbed on a stainless steel pan with a lid (the kind you'd use, steeped in a hot batch, in catering carts to keep the food warm). I smeared both the lid and the tray with fat, so that the flowers get encapsulated by the scent-absorbging fats, an you can truly capture some of the "headspace" of the perfume. After all, this is what enfleurage is all about!

I tried different fats - such as palm, shea butter, coconut oil, etc. with varying results and also different challenges in the process, which I feel compelled to share here in case you want to experiment with your own enfleurage with your flowers.

I tried many different flowers - whatever was in bloom. My first fantasy was to use the Calicotome villosa flowers (they look very similar to gorse flowers), but they bloomed very early and I didn't have my tray then yet. Then I was hoping to get the broom; but I could not figure out yet what is the best time of the day to pick them. This was a crucial detail, because I don't have them growing close by, and didn't want them to spoil on the way to the tray. A technical difficulty that I could not anticipate was that the fats melt very fast if you take the tray out with you to harvest. And then you end up with some serious problems (such as the fats on the lid drip off to the bottom).  And that is defeating the whole purpose...

First Enfleurage Experiment
So, in the end, I created mixed trays of flowers, whatever I had on hand that was blooming, and paid close attention to the time of the day when it's best to capture them. Some are best early in the morning (not too many, actually), others you'll need to wait till the sun is shining (late morning). The Trachelospermum jasminoides flowers give their very best incensed-ambery-jasmine in the afternoon. And some, like the gardenias and Brunflesia, truly are best at night. The sweetpeas and Buddleijas davidii are most forgiving. But all are also favoured by tiny, minuscule bugs, which I found some ways to reduce, but very few ways to completely avoid completely.

First Enfleurage Experiment

After changing the flowers for several batches, of the course of a week or more I got what is technically called "Pommade". This is the fats saturated with the flowers' perfume. But to get to this phase you got to be utterly careful not to let the flowers overstay their welcome. You must change them every two days. Also, you must pay close attention to not allow any mould to form. The problem is, there is not a lot of ways to know when the mould will form - until it actually started. The literature I found about enfleurage talks about only week-long processing of the flowers, changing them every two days. But the fats did not have that much fragrance after a week. Also, mould could form within that week, depending not he amount of moisture in the atmosphere - and in the flowers.

Pommade from Enfleruage

The pommade is then washed with alcohol, or to be more exact: it is melted over low heat bain-marie with alcohol. Allowed to macerate for additional ten weeks. Then chilled and filtered. What you see in the image below is the warmed fats in the alcohol (on the left) and the spent flowers (the beaker on the right). The spent flowers can be composted, or extracted with absolute to create an "absolute from chassis".
Making Extrait from Enfleurage

The resulting alcohol  is really a perfume - alcohol with the plants essences in them. This is what you'll find in many old formula book labeled as "extrait of tuberose", "extrait of jasmine", and so on and so forth. This is not the complete process, but this is probably where a home enfleurageur should stop, to avoid unnecessary loss of material. And especially, if you're intending to use this in alcoholic perfumes anyway. Serious (read: commercial) enfleurage manufacturers would go on to evaporate the alcohol (preferably with a still, and in such way that they can re-use it), and will be left with an uber concentrated absolute from enfleurage.




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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Fig Incense

Maple & Fig

With all the heat waves I've survived in the past couple of years, my Philosykos is beginning to dwindle down. So, I have decided to seek out a new fig fragrance. I love Philosykos, a green fig fragrance that is very refreshing in hot weather. Like wading in a cool pebbled stream, and enjoying the shade of fig trees and towering oleander bushes. It lasts very briefly, and so I thought why not get a stronger fig scent?

Premier Figuier was created in 1994, and was not only the first fig fragrance, but also one of the first by Olivia Giacobetti (the year prior to that she debuted her career with Petit Guerlain and Eau de l'Artisan). I have a sample of this first fig, and always liked it but not enough to purchase a bottle: it's milky, coconut and powdery and lasts even less than Philosykos (which is also by Giacobetti, and very light, which is excellent quality for summertime, but also limits it to this season for me). The latter has an Eau de Parfum version that is wonderful and longer lasting, but simply not available around this part of the world; and so when I stumbled upon Premier Figuier Extrême in the website of the nearest perfume boutique, I decided to purchase it unsniffed (the actual location near me didn't have it, so that's why I didn't smell it first). When it arrived, I immediately had a buyer's regret, because I should have known better than to purchase something with a similar name to something I like and expect it to end up well. I decided to pick up the scent, not open it, and go to the boutique that is a little more far away and sniff them side by side.

But, of course, I couldn't not open a bottle of new perfume sitting on my desk. So I undressed the box from its cellophane wrap, released the bottle from its carton embrace and spritzed just teeny tiny bit on one wrist. Well, this is neither smelling like Premier Figuier; not like fig of any shape for that matter. Instead, I got this exotic whiff of the spice market, a swirl of incense and maybe some crushed fig leaves very far in the backdrop. To replace Philosykos clearly it can't. Nevertheless, I was intrigued.

Hội An, Vietnam

Premier Figuier Extrême begins with a trail of delicate incense smoke, intertwined with spicy-floral undercurrent. It is dry and warm, yet also soft and sweet-balsamic (I am smelling Peru balsam to be more specific). There is a surprising smokiness to it that brings to mind Dzing! or perhaps Tea for Two (also by Giacobetti, who must have some kind of a signature I am yet to decipher), and much less of the powderiness of the original with its coconut note which I found distracting and a bit too soapy and watery-aldehydic. While the two are marketed as different concentrations of the same theme (Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum), and share almost all of the notes (minus the asafoetida note in the original), such as almond milk, coconut, sandalwood, fig leaf, dried fruit and fig wood - I find them to be almost as different as night and day: PF is watery, thin and luminous, with abstracts hints to the milky latex that streams out of the young tree. It is not even quite a tree yet, but a sapling that grows by the water stream, with the cool watery air coming off the wet pebbles.

PFE is rather expansive, surprisingly full-bodied and with a sultry, sulphuric air to it, and I am wondering if this is part of the allusion to the fig fruit. This makes me wonder if the asafoetida note is not wrongly listed and actually belongs to the Extrême. It is mentioned this way on Fragrantica.
It is not so much like ripe figs (and definitely not purple!) as stated in some of the copy writing, but more of a conceptual perfume, an interpretation of an interpretation. I imagine the perfumer revisiting her creation almost a decade later to tweak and upgrade the formulation to make it longer lasting - and gets carried away creating a completely new (and improved!) interpretation of the fig theme. This time the fruit is ripe, rich, full and the tree it grows from has matured to have thick, huggable trunk and more sturdy branches. It has become a home to several song birds and gives enough shade to rest under and cool off, even though it's not even close to any body of water. On the contrary: Maybe someone is burning a fire near it, and roasting some summer fruit on its flames.

There is the aspect of contrasting textures, also, which is what I find most intriguing about this scent. There is the feeling of being surrounded by fine incense smoke, and at the same time a bracing touch of bumpy fresh fig leaf. A delicate, powdery, almost honeyed sweet floral haze and also the pulling apart of fruit to reveal its minuscule slimy tentacles inside. The polished dusty feel of a silvery fig tree trunk, and at the same time the oozing white milky watery sap.

All in all, I'm pleased to say this has turned into an intriguing blind purchase which I'm happy to embrace into my collection and wear in this strange late spring, which keeps jumping from one extreme to the next: thunderstorms and humid cold rainy days, followed by hot dry desert winds, and replaced again by muggy humid days and more showers sprinkled in between. It's light-textured yet rich with nuances and I'm happy to discover different things within it in both cooler and warmer days.

Top notes: Fig Tree Leaves, Gorse Bush Flowers, Smoky & Sulfur Notes 
Heart notes: Almond Milk, Figs, Sandalwood
Base notes: Coconut Milk, Dried Fruit Notes, Stone Pine, Incense

A word about comparative sniffing: When trying something blind for the first time and without any preconceived ideas, you have the advantage of being able to form an impression that is free of opinions, marketing intentions and other biases. If I was to be told "this is a fig fragrance", on the other hand, I would be looking for the fig and finding it thanks to the power of suggestion. It is a bit tricky to compare similar fragrances side by side. It may be an excellent exercise for a professional perfumer or a perfumery student trying to refine their olfactory discerning abilities. But for  a layperson just trying to find a scene they enjoy, this can be utterly confusing and totally ruin the fun. Instead of smelling it for what it is, you smell it in comparison to something else that it is "supposed" to be similar to. And by doing so, what happens is that you find less of what you were expecting to find, and if that was what you're after - and don't find it - this is a sure method to feel disappointed.



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Monday, May 14, 2018

Thoughts on Fear

Snake Visit

About fortnight ago, a night before starting my two-weeks of teaching perfumery courses, I was blessed with an unexpected visitor: An unrecognizable snake.
Fear got the worst of me. I grew up here and know that there is only one poisonous snake around, and exactly how it looks (a viper). However, I wasn't around for many, many years and with climate change - who knows, maybe a colourful desert snake decided to migrate to the Galilee?!
The striking colours of the snake made me especially frightened (usually they are a warning sign for danger). And also the fact that it got into my home and was coming out of a very narrow crack between the door's frame and the wall (as you can clearly see in the photo). I immediately snapped the photo and sent to my family, and called my brother to come and help me out. He got here so quickly, without even checking the photo, and in the meantime - the snake started to move. Which frightened the hell out of me... So I quietly and swiftly came up with a murder plan and started whacking the snake with a metal dustpan I use for clearing the ashes out of the wood stove.

By the time my brother arrived, I was already convinced I killed the snake. And he sadly told me this is an erdviper, in Hebrew מחרוזן דו-גוני או מחרוזן הטבעות, AKA Müller's black-headed snake (Micrelaps muelleri). It is not dangerous to people (although it does have venom, but in it's back teeth - so it's very rare to get fully bitten by it). It's a snake that is only active at night, when it would go hunting for various bugs, spiders, mice and smaller snakes, and spends the days under rocks. Being more comfortable handling reptiles than I am, he picked the snake and discovered it is actually still alive. He released it in the garden, at first the snake did not move much but then crawled away and was never seen again.

This encounter left me shaken and with many mixed feelings. First of all feeling very guilty that I injured this snake. Then also very perplexed and surprised about the powerful, visceral fear I felt finding a snake in my home. Then about the degree of aggression I was willing to perform against a creature I don't know anything about but was so mistakenly convinced could endanger me and my family. It got me thinking about many things - human aggression in general, and how powerful our defence mechanisms are that could push us to do horrible things. This seemed especially relevant for this time of instability and violence in the Middle East. We need to all do some serious work overcoming our fears and learning how to be more rational and less defensive. This is only possible by building more trust with our neighbours, both human and animal, and getting to know them better. When you know something you can't be afraid of it. At least not as much as I was that night.

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Sunday, May 06, 2018

Summary of Floral Bouquets Week, Spring 2018

Setting up the Perumer's Organ for Floral Bouquets Course (April 29 - May 3, 2018)

A second week (in a row!) of intensive perfumery studies has come to a close: Floral Bouquet Week-Long Perfumery Course. This is the fourth course I'm teaching at my new space, and I'm thoroughly enjoying all aspects of the new location: the proximity to the flowers and wild plants and herbs, the quiet atmosphere that truly allows for deeper studies and absorption of the materials (no city distractions for students means they can both study extra materials and get much needed rest between the daily sessions).

Gardenia!
Gardenia in all its fresh, dewy, tropical glory! 

We were blessed with many beautifully fragrant flowers in bloom, such as the star jasmine and gardenias, which I could demonstrate enfleurage method though in a most direct manner.

Star Jasmine
Star Jasmine in bloom
First Enfleurage Experiment
Laying fresh star jasmine flowers on the Enfleurage tray 
Pommade from Enfleruage
Pomade from Enfleurage 
Making Extrait from Enfleurage
Melting the fat in alcohol to produce the Extrait from Enfleurage  

We were able to study fresh flowers in different times of the day...

Amadeus Tea Rose

Floral Bouquet Week Long Course: Studying Seasonal Flowers

And even eat them for lunch in a lovely floral-fresh salad!
Floral Salad
And for dessert (rosy Rahat Loukum, anybody?)

Druze Coffe and Turkish Delight (Rahat Lukoum)

We dug out a fresh rhizome of Iris germanica in my garden, from which orris powder and orris butter are made of. Here it is in all the various forms it is used:
A Study in Orris

My Studious Perfumery Students

My students studied five out of 8 fragrance families meticulously and methodically (Soliflores, Florientals and Aquatic Flowers receive their own separate course in my program!). They spent this intensive week-long course studying the most important flowers in perfumery (Rose, Jasmines, Orange Blossom, Ylang Ylang, Tuberose, Orris Butter, Violet Leaf etc.) as well as rare and exotic raw materials (Boronia, Broom, Pink Lotus, Champaca and more), studying historic floral formula such as Mille Fleurs, Bouquet A La Merchale, Frangipanni etc.,

Setting up the Perumer's Organ for Floral Bouquets Course (April 29 - May 3, 2018)

Floral Perfumes

There were a lot of dissecting modern florals - both purely natural and those containing synthetics, to get the feel for each one of the styles in which florals can be composed, and trying to create a match for each one of the representatives of the family (some of them you can see in the photo - for example: Vent Vert, Joy, Diorissimo, No. 5, Arpege, Apres l'Ondee and more).

A Forest of Scent Strips (Touchés)

But of course, the focus of this advanced program was the composition and creative aspect. At the end of the week, each had at least five creations representative of each category, including the most challenging feat: a natural Floral Aldehydic!

13 Scents Later...

Asa and Jenny Amber - I'm very much looking forward to seeing you again in my next courses. Here's what's scheduled:

Autumn 2018: 
November 4-8: Chypre
November 11-15: Leather & Tobacco (advanced students only!)

Spring 2019:
March 24-28: Fougère
March 31 - April 4: Soliflores (advanced students only!) 

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Wild Madonna Lily


Lily Trail Map

We went on a floral pilgrimage today, hiking the lovely slopes above Kziv Creek, hunting for non other than the Wild Madonna Lily!
Clarification: The lily is wild, the Madonna is not.
Dramatic Arbutus
Twisted Arbutus AKA Twizzlers Tree

Signs
Signs 

White Mushroom
White Mushroom

Keren Bartut
Keren Bartut

First Lily Spotting
"Like a lily among the thorns, So is my darling among the maidens." (Song of Songs, 2:2)

The first lily appeared to me after we passed Keren Bartut (the edge of the cliff), almost by change, towering over my head and half eaten by some bugs. I had to climb up a rock to be able to smell it not being very hopeful and pleasantly surprised not only by the scent (which I will talk about in a moment), but also because it had a friend hiding in the bush next to it.  I was so worried that we passed many more on the rocks. But decided to walk on because surely, with my eyes for flowers i would have noticed what I was searching for if it was there. Sometimes you just have to trust yourself this way and not walk back a difficult trail because of self-doubt.

Stairs and Rocks
We walked a bit more on the rocks... Climbing a set of uneven stairs.

And a bit more rocky slopes
Rocky Terrain

And then we spotted this!

Wild Treasure!
A whole colony of Madonna Lilies (Lilium candidum), in plain sight!
A rather large colony, actually, with more lilies hiding between the trees and the bushes just at the edge of the cliff, and beyond it on the steep slopes of the cliff itself... Overlooking the wadi and staring stoically into the horizon.

Madonna Lily
"What is this coming up from the wilderness Like columns of smoke, Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, With all scented powders of the merchant?" (Song of Songs 3:6)

Although the cultivated plant is popular and widespread, these wild lilies are extremely rare. They grow only on very rocky slopes bordering the Mediterranean forests in Turkey, Lebanon and Israel. In Israel it is found in only three locations. The smell is completely, totally different than what you'd expect from something with the same name. 

Rather than the heady lily scent so strongly associated with Easer and funerals,  the wild lilies smell candy-like and very much like champaca flowers! There is sweetness and spiciness to it, very honeyed, full-bodied and with just a tiny bit of orange blossom and green, spicy yet cool bay leaf quality. 
Wild Madonna Lily

This aromatic hiking expedition was partly a known trail to me, from previous visits to the beautiful Kziv creek; and partly a new one. It seemed shorter on the map and ended up feeling like a long way to find the lilies. The terrain was a bit adventurous too, very rocky and with lots of ups and downs that are very much like life's unpredicted path. But it totally paid off, because along it I found much more than I expected. Here are some photos of other beautiful flowers that are quite rare and bloom at the exact same time as these beautiful lilies. 

Helicrysum Sanguinum
Blood helichrysum (Helichrysum Sanguinium)

Mystery Orchid
Mystery Orchid - tall and gorgeous!

Wild Snapdragons & Michauxia campanuloides
Wild Snapdragons & Michauxia campanuloides

Michauxia campanuloides
Michauxia campanuloides

Wild Snapdragon
Wild snapdragon closeup

Old Oak
Old Oak Tree

Old Varthemia
Old Vartehmia with intensely fruity-smelling leaves 

Fern & Moss
Fern & Moss

Bloody Wedding
Bloody wedding (Oak & Arbutus Trees)

Kziv Creek & Goren Park
Kziv Creek & Goren Park

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