Sunday, May 14, 2006

Scent of a Mother

Mothers have a special scent. They smell like comfort, reassurance and tenderness. The scent of mothers and their babies help them bond and although scent is not the strongest sense of the mammals of our kind, they can recognize each other by their scent only a short while after the baby is born. If you ever smelled a baby before you will notice how fragrant they are - especially their head - a scent that is irresistible for a stranger, let alone a mother! Yet it is very delicate, and requires close contact and caring for the baby in order to be noticed and enjoyed. The mother’s body odour acts in a similar way on the baby and the young child. And lest we forget that mommies in our early life actuallyl mean, amongst other things… food!

And so, I wanted to dedicate this post to scents that remind me of my mother and also to wonder a bit about our differences when it comes to perfumes and the sense of smell…

My mother did not wear perfumes, ever. In fact, my mother has an hyposmia – which means that she can’t always smell. She tells me she can get a whiff, sometimes, of a nice flower when passing by, but for the most part her sense of smell is limited. As a child, I always helped her determine when food was spoiled. I could tell that it is just about to go bad when other members of the family still thought it was edible. And that was a very useful skill to have in a household with no refrigirator! (there was no electricity in the village where I grew up in, due to ideological reasons of the founders of the village, which I can still not quite understand).

But besides the practice of quality assurance in the kitchen, my mother has taught me and allowed me to practice many skills that ended up all leading me to do what I do now. She cultivated a passion for the medicinal properties of plants, including the most strangest smelling of all – such as ruh and yarrow. And so she taught me that each plant has a secret – something it can do to make us feel better and be happier people, even the ones that don't have very pretty flowers... Her favourite of all teas was aniseed tea, and to this day anything from the licorice family reminds me of my mother. Besides, she always gave me licorice root to chew on. It had the most incredible aroma and was intensely sweet even though there was no real ugar in it. My mother also baked whole wheat bread and the earthy scent of baking filled our little home with anticipation for the delight of munching on the warm crust...

My mother taught me how to sew and make my own clothes – and basically passed on to me the attitude that I can do most (if not all) things, myself. When I left for Vancouver, my mother gave me her special indigo coloured hooded-blouse which is made of the most slippery and soft velvet ever. She loves velvet, and just as soft as a velvet and a mother’s hand is, I created a perfume for her (which she can get a whiff of from time to time, and even asked for a refill before my last visit, which made me super-happy): Indigo. Indigo has plenty of aniseed, just like the syrupy thick tea my mother loved to drink, and also bread-like notes of caraway. It has an overall herbal and mysteriously cool spicy aroma which softens later into a violet heart, with boronia, jasmine, carnation and orange blossom and than fades into an incense and amber base, just like a warm blanket as the night deepens… It just feels like an indigo velvety night…

My mother danced with me when I was little, and sang to me every night. From her I got my love for music and art and flowers. And just as she came back to playing her music and living up her dreams after her children grew up a bit, I learned to insist on following my dreams too and never give up on what is most dear to me.
Her imagination guided me to follow my passions and listen to the language of flowers…

p.s. Tell me what scentual impression your mother left on you, or just stop by to say hello. Your comments will generate $1 per each commenter to be donated by myself to FINCA International. Your readership and comments are much appreciated!

p.s.s. Amongst all commenters today there will be a blind draw and two of you will win a bottle of Altruism!

p.s.s.s. I would like to take this opportunity to also draw your attention to SmellyBlog's super-fun contest - The Scented Ribbon Contest - send me a picture of what you think is the best use for the scent ribbons that are gradually replacing the blotter cards - and enter to win a perfume from my collection as well as a pair of handmade, super-comfy and sexy undergarments!

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24 Comments:

At May 14, 2006 1:45 AM, Blogger Cait Shortell said...

Dear Ayala,
You are such a sweetheart! I love to think of you creating Indigo for your mom. I continue to get so much out of reading your blog and I cannot wait to smell your perfumes. Thank you for your creativity.

Well, my mom reminds me of all kinds of smells. To name a few: tuberose leis, fresh squeezed orange juice, vitabath, chanel no. 5, narcissus, freshly made chopped liver, Jean Patou Joy, Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion, and dill.

Thanks again and Happy Mother's Day.

 
At May 14, 2006 2:02 AM, Anonymous Prince Barry said...

Happy Mother's Day to mothers everywhere.

Thank you for the lovely post Ayala.

 
At May 14, 2006 7:04 AM, Blogger Parisjasmal said...

What a lovely post!

My mother always wore unusual fragrances from when she lived in Europe and the Middle East.
She had some wonderful Lavendar scents from Greece and some Rose oil from Turkey. I wish I knew what they were, but alas she got them over 30 years ago.

She also wore Tabu sometimes. I still like Tabu actually.

Have a wonderful Mother's Day. I hope we all get lots of comments!

 
At May 14, 2006 8:11 AM, Blogger andy said...

Thank you for your charming post. Isn't it great (and yet so difficult) to create a personal scent for one's mom?
Fragrant wishes to you!

 
At May 14, 2006 9:42 AM, Blogger Annieytown said...

Happy Mothers Day!
This was a very lovely post and a great tribute to your mother.

My mother wore Estee Lauder all my life. Knowing is her signature fragrance.

 
At May 14, 2006 10:02 AM, Blogger greeneyes said...

Thank you for your lovely post. For me, the scent that most reminds me of my mom is gardenia. Happy Mother's Day!

 
At May 14, 2006 10:03 AM, Blogger colombina said...

Dear Ayala,
Whay an incredible story and a wonderful tribute to your mother!

Very Happy Mother's Day to you!

 
At May 14, 2006 10:36 AM, Blogger Heather said...

Dear Ayala

My Mum never really wore perfume - she was so practical as to be austere - the over riding scent I rcall is laundry soap - no bad thing - its clean and lineny and comforting - but sometimes I wished she has smelled of somethng more exotic - it might have softened her somehow

Happy Mothers Day
Heather

 
At May 14, 2006 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anya said...

Hi Ayala
We really need to hear from Tamya, too, to see what her impressions are of her perfumey mama ;-) Your childhood was so herbal and rustic and full of sensory experiences that many of us never experienced, being children of the cities. I had a huge, untamed park two blocks from my home, and was the herbal/fragrance/culinary one in the family, always bringing home some bit of vegetation to smell or try to cook with. Luckily, I got stopped before putting pine needles into the potato salad!

My mother's fragrances all meld with those of her sisters and friends. They all liked high-end classic fragrances of "the day", i.e. the 40s and 50s. By the time I was born, the youngest of the youngest, meaning both my mother and I were 8 years younger than our next oldest sibling, fragrances were "set".

Nobody tried the new stuff of the 60s or 70s -- except for me, and I find my natural perfumery, minus the great diffusiveness and sillage of the perfumes of "the day" bring me closest to the beauty of them.

So, let Tamya write something, I'd love to see her opinions.

 
At May 14, 2006 11:05 AM, Anonymous Emotenote said...

OOooh! I love the pictures on your Blog, having not visited before. My mom always smelled like cooked dinner. Not sure why, but she did wear Oscar de la Renta for Years! Good luck!

 
At May 14, 2006 11:06 AM, Anonymous Anya said...

>perfumes of "the day" bring me closest to the beauty of them

I don't think I was clear in the above post. I meant natural perfumery brings me closest to the fine perfumes of the 40s and 50s, not the 60s and 70s.

 
At May 14, 2006 11:59 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Good luck with Benevolent Blogging.

 
At May 14, 2006 12:42 PM, Anonymous Michelle H. said...

How wonderful that you are doing benevolent blogging! Your posts are evocative and inspiring.
Diluted orris butter reminds me of my mother, of her natural scent and not of a specific perfume (which was reserved for special occaisions). It is the ultimate scent journey- dab of orris butter on my wrist, and in an instant I am a small child in my mothers arms.

 
At May 14, 2006 1:08 PM, Blogger ducklet said...

i absolutely adore these memories you've shared of your mother's obvious affection. happy mother's day!

 
At May 14, 2006 3:10 PM, Blogger katiedid said...

Ayala, these are such beautiful memories. Happy Mother's Day, and thank you for sharing those.

 
At May 14, 2006 3:31 PM, Blogger benvenuta said...

beautiful post!

 
At May 14, 2006 4:02 PM, Anonymous vashopper said...

Ayala, what a wonderful tribute to your mother! Just wonderful to read.

 
At May 14, 2006 5:10 PM, Anonymous sybil said...

What lovely (and interesting) memories! It is so interesting to read your blog (I've been lurking, but I'll come out and say I enjoyed reading about your trip overseas...) My mom---not a perfume wearer, but I do associate baking smells with her...esp. when I was small.

 
At May 14, 2006 5:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ayala,
What a lovely tribute to your mother. Mine taught me to sew, also -- a great gift. My mother wore L'Aimant by Coty, but the scents I associate with her are the slightly salty, pleasantly sweaty smell of her after she'd been working in her vegetable garden (1 acre in size! She fed many people from it.) The smell of corn and of fresh tomato stems on the fingers -- that's the smell of home. The last year she could garden, when the corn had tasselled out the plants were so full of bees that the air throbbed with their buzzing like a plane getting ready to take off.

Happy Mother's Day. Kitty

 
At May 14, 2006 6:27 PM, Anonymous caribou said...

Hi Ayala,

I loved what you wrote about your mom; so cool that she inspired Indigo which is such a strikingly unique perfume. My own mom just moved back home to Santa Fe this week at the age of 89; she's very happy to be in view of her mountains once again, and I know just how she feels. Certain sights and smells make life even more worth living!

Carrie

 
At May 14, 2006 7:03 PM, Blogger The Scented Salamander said...

What rich olfactive memories you have of your mother!

We also used to chew licorice root in Paris when I was child. Your comment brought that memory back to me.

Happy Mother's Day!

PS: I need to try your scents:)

 
At May 14, 2006 8:46 PM, Blogger marlen said...

Happy Mother's Day!

marlen

 
At May 14, 2006 9:45 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Thank you so much for all the benevolent commenters here on SmellyBlog today!
Thanks for sharing your motherly scent experiences and musings. It's been lots of fun to see some of the lurkers step forward!

I deeply appreciate your participation in this humble fundraising project, and will let you all know how much money we raised as well as who the winners are for my draw by Tuesday at the latest.

Now, Anya wanted to know what Tamya likes as perfumes, and I will answer that shortly in a different blog entry. So stay tuned!

 
At May 15, 2006 8:28 AM, Anonymous kyahgirl said...

I love this post! Sorry I missed yesterday. I was away.

I'll be back. what a great blog!

 

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