I came home yesterday after a weekend retreat with some friends at Opal Creek ancient heritage forest to discover that Mandy Aftelier’s Workbook One for novice perfumers arrived in the mail on Saturday.
Did you ever order something so completely outside of your realm of expertise off the Internet, have it arrive in a beautiful package and then have an out-of-body experience, where you wonder who you are to have done this and how dare you and what does this mean? And then that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach: What have I gotten myself into?
That is me, holding Workbook One, knowing that the fact that there is a Workbook One means that there is also a Workbook Two out there, and perhaps even more.
I am the last person in the world to be starting a new hobby. I have two kids under the age of three, a husband who is, if you can believe it, even more into cuddling than I am, a writing business, a family business, a part-time volunteering job at my son’s school, a house, two cats, a garden, a quilting obsession, and a strong belief that all of us should be doing less.
I am also, apparently, a crazy person who orders giant at-home perfuming courses.
Something happened to me several months ago. I was shopping in Portland and came across Heather Sielaff’s line of natural perfumes, OLO. The were just lovely, like nothing I’d ever encountered before. I started wearing Dafne, which was mixed to smell like the daphne flower that blooms in this area of the country at the end of February.
I want to bloom in winter, too!
It was something I actually wanted to put on my body — not the overpowering, chemically commercial perfumes, but something that smelled real, didn’t turn me into some kind of Charlie Brown character with wafts of unctuous and jarring scent radiating off my body.
Then, I found more of them. I interviewed Heather Sielaff, and I fell down that journalist’s rabbit hole where you fall in love with the thing you are writing about (natural perfume, though Heather is lovely, too).
Then, I discovered her, the grand dame of American natural perfuming , Mandy Aftelier, who I have been following on Twitter, and whose book Essence & Alchemy I devoured in a single sitting. I started sneaking in to Cacao, our favorite Portland chocolate shop, every chance I could get to get a whiff of her tiny fragrance, Cacao, which is sold there in a bottle about the size of a tiny brandy bottle (if Barbie drank brandy).
You must assume that a chocolate perfume smells like chocolate. Oh no. It’s like you’re floating on a vanilla bean pod down a river of chocolate with orange blossoms and jasmine blooming above you.
So here I am. I’ve got Workbook One, I’ve got some essential oils coming to me in the mail, and I’ve got that tingly new beginning feeling, like I’ve found something I just want to inhale until I can’t hold it anymore.
Wish me luck! I’ve got a new subtitle…