Like the cherry blossom, the lily-of-the-valley this year opened early. In fact, it was out just before Easter Sunday: appropriate given that the flowers were said to have sprung from the tears of the Virgin Mary at the Crucifixion.
I have written extensively about these flowers before – particularly in my section on Muguet in my book, which was one of my favourite chapters. The replenished, almost cruel beauty of Diorissimo; the tranquil, transparent ease of Coty’s lovely Muguet Des Bois. . . I have a used up edt of Caron’s crucial addition to the canon, Muguet Du Bonheur, but have never had a chance to smell the vintage extrait until recently when Tora sent me a precious vial, enough to be used at this time of year for several years more to come.
The extrait is gorgeous. Warm, clean, with notes of lilac and neroli as prominent as the calm, private, lily-of-the-valley at the helm ; heliotrope, rose, musk and sandalwood, round out the base like a heavy porcelain basin of quiet, illuminated by afternoon sunlight. The perfume is, as the name suggests, most definitely a happy one. If Diorissimo is nervous;, the more diaphanous and cool Muguet des Bois disappeared into the treetops with the wood nymphs, Bonheur is on a more human plane of spiritual contentment – perfect for mellow Sundays ; just enjoying life.
It is now the beginning of my ultra-busy spring term. I am recovering gradually from the inner ear vertigo disorder, I think, and have fortunately been moved to a different building. I can’t tell you how different it is to have windows. While I have probably bored readers to death on here with my panicked rantings on the subject, in a pandemic situation you need proper ventilation, and in the previous place there were emergency windows only which had to be opened with a crank, sometimes getting stuck, or broken, leaving only a sliver of fresh air in a space with hundreds of students.
Now, I have control over how air is circulating: I can distance the students more and am very relieved by this. It was horrible before. I realized this more clearly on Sunday when going for a walk with a good friend of mine down by the lake. Sometimes you have to talk about these things face to face with a rational, intelligent, empathetic person: to have a person confirm what you know is true, confirm that behaviour that borders on insanity is precisely that, but to try and move on from it. A Buddhist, she chanted for me and for other people (the world) at the top of the ravine in direct sun overlooking the sparkling river beneath – the birdsong surrounding us becoming louder as my focus sharpened (we both became aware of this); the first time I have experienced such a thing in my life. I am open to beliefs, even if they are not necessarily my own, and this was rejuvenating, fascinating. Whatever it was, being together was both stimulating and peaceful, and when we came back, she, D and I had wine, talking for hours in the front garden; some plucked muguet from the forest on the wooden table.