Summer 1928 Perfume
“And there, row upon row, with the soft gleam of flowers opened at morning, with the light of this June sun glowing through a faint skin of dust, would stand the dandelion wine. Peer through it at the wintry day - the snow melted to grass, the trees were reinhabitated with bird, leaf, and blossoms like a continent of butterflies breathing on the wind. And peering through, color sky from iron to blue.
Hold summer in your hand, pour summer in a glass, a tiny glass of course, the smallest tingling sip for children; change the season in your veins by raising glass to lip and tilting summer in”
― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
There is one book from my childhood I always take with me, wherever I move (and I have moved many times in my life!). It contains the three main stories which taught me not only to love reading but also re-reading books and discover new details on every page and see a character from a different side. I think I have re-read Dandelion Wine at least five times and as summer was approaching this year, I thought: why not create a perfume based on your favourite book written by your favourite writer? The idea made me leave some important things and focus on the notes. But I had the fragrance in my head. To be sure I googled some recipes of dandelion wine (I wish I could make it myself or buy it somewhere!) and to my surprise, I found a few which gave the description which I expected. Here is the one I loved most (by agardenerstable):
Yesterday my husband brought me a glass of the dandelion wine we made last April. It’s a lovely brew, gently aromatic from the citrus and ginger, and sweet with residual sugar. I think I now know what the dandelions are for: They give the wine its pale golden color, to imitate white wine or, perhaps, mead.
The only way I can imagine improving the recipe would be to substitute honey for the refined sugar. But then I would have mead, and the dandelions might be superfluous.
As it is, our sweet, spicy, slightly bitter dandelion wine makes an excellent low-budget treat for the bleak mid-winter. I recommend drinking it cold, preferably by a warm fire.
Isn't it amazing that summer can actually be bottled not only as wine but also as a perfume? I am sure there are many other interpretations of the book and most probably other artisan perfumes but I could not help avoiding it. And there are serious reasons for that. If you have read Bradbury's books, you know how beautiful his descriptions are, how deeply involved you become with the plot. I love the writer not only for his beautiful language in his stories but also for the love and kindness, the sweetness of childhood memories...
“I’m ALIVE. Thinking about it, noticing it, is new. You do things and don’t watch. Then all of a sudden you look and see what you’re doing and it’s the first time, really.”
― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
A few years ago I smelled magnolia oil for the first time, I did not really like it first. So the bottle was just standing on the shelf for a couple of years or more. A few weeks ago I smelled the oil again, and, to my surprise the aroma was amazing! The oil has aged, just like wine, losing its top pepper like notes and leaving the clean floral notes, perfect for the first savour. White champaca, as it is also called, had the notes I needed for my dandelion perfume: bitter-floral-honey, tea like and very clean. In fact, the clean notes start the perfume and finish it, while the heart stays warm, balmy and summery. It is not about sweet sugary notes but rather mellow, wine like, with light citrus and spicy notes. Is it not how summer starts and ends? Fresh, warm, dulcet and at the end - breezy with crisp mornings in September or even in October, if it is an Indian summer.
The idea is that dandelion wine is a concentration of long warm summer days and nights, well aged, it must be drunk in small amounts.
The perfume, as all my line, is unisex and can be worn at any season of the year.
He shut his eyes.
June dawns, July noons, August evenings over, finished, done, and gone forever with
only the sense of it all left here in his head. Now, a whole autumn, a white winter, a cool
and greening spring to figure sums and totals of summer past. And if he should forget,
the dandelion wine stood in the cellar, numbered huge for each and every day. He would
go there often, stare straight into the sun until he could stare no more, then close his
eyes and consider the burned spots, the fleeting scars left dancing on his warm eyelids;
arranging, rearranging each fire and reflection until the pattern was clear . . .
So thinking, he slept.
And, sleeping, put an end to Summer, 1928.
P.S. If you ask me what are the other two stories in the book I always keep? They are To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye which I have also re-read many times. But Dandelion Wine and Farewell Summer are the novels which are the closest to my heart and soul.
R. Bradbury was born and died in summer (August and June accordingly).