Friday, May 15, 2009

Where I Left My Brain

I’m not sure, but I think it’s under that black thing on the beach.

I’ve just returned from St. George Island, Florida, a skinny little key that skirts along the east side of that pointy thing that sticks out into the Gulf of Mexico from the Florida panhandle. It’s my sixth time there; usually I don’t mention this place to very many people because, let’s face it, they’ll tell their friends who will tell theirs, and we don’t want it to be roooned, do we, but if any of you are interested in finding about this secret paradise, email me at olfactarama at gmail dot com and I’ll tell you all about it. Oh, and one more thing -- if you don’t think you look good in a bathing suit this appears to be the last place on earth where just about everybody is going to be bigger/blobbier/older than you.

Okay, then, let’s get to olfaction.

Oddly enough, the panhandle section of Florida really is only faintly olfactionary. In this area, there are some of the most spectacular oyster beds in the world, but there isn’t that brininess of the Pacific or Atlantic or other, colder oceans of the world. I haven’t eaten a raw oyster in years, but I do remember that that was pretty much the only appeal to them, and without that, I can’t imagine a reason why anyone would gobble down what looks and feels like -- well never mind -- but these are spectacular cooked, fried especially, as they do it down they-ah. Fried food? I can hear you saying with indrawn breath; yeah, I allow myself one fried seafood platter per year and that one platter -- shrimp, little bay scallops, oysters -- tastes pretty fabulous.

So, I thought, the last thing I’d want at the beach would be perfume, right? Wrong.

I took down some 4711, a little O de Lancome, the remainder of a sample of Jo Malone Grapefruit that I had, and some YSL In Love Again (don’t spray this on a white shirt, btw). But there was something about the heaviness of the Gulf air that seemed to require something more substantial, especially at night, especially at the local beach bar that looked as if it was constructed of driftwood somebody had nailed together. I wanted to smell like magnolias or gardenias or jasmine. Maybe because this part of Florida is still the South. But something about it transcended the Beach Cologne Rule -- you know -- lemon/citrus/light. No one ever wears anything more formal than shorts and an unstained T-shirt, but still. Snarfing down cold boiled shrimp with horseradish sauce while drinking a pint or two would seem to require something lemony, I wanted one of my divas. SL’s Fleur d’Oranger comes readily to mind. Jasmine -- they have a plant there called Confederate Jasmine, which has a lighter fragrance than, say, a la Nuit; maybe a mixed floral in which jasmine predominates? Or Fracas. Even Mitsouko, vintage extrait, with that heavy peachy-beer note. Or a Rosine; Poussiere de Rose, Twill Rose, Rose d’Homme.

I do love these kinds of surprises.

What do you wear to the beach?

photo by Patricia Borow
All rights reserved


Ines said...

My perfect beach scent is Bronze goddess, it is exactly what summer feels like to me. And on days when I want some freshness, L'Artisan Ananas fizz is just the thing.

Anonymous said...

The only beaches I know well are in northern California, and none of them is the sultry site you describe. The water's cold, the breeze is brisk, but you can still get a vicious sunburn. No point in wearing scent, as the wind would blow it away in two seconds. If I were to visit your Florida getaway, however, I might bring some Divine or EL Tuberose Gardenia in addition to 4711 and, of course, a shade hat and plenty of SPF85.
-- Gretchen

Olfacta said...

Hi Ines and Gretchen -- Haven't tried Bronze Goddess, it's an EL, isn't it? Next time I'm by the counter.

I've been to Stinson Beach and others (lived in SoCal for 22 years). It's always windy or at least breezy at all the Pacific beaches -- I really prefer that to Florida's limpid gulf ones, but they're easier to get to for me now. I almost never got suburned in California but these beaches with their white sand -- it seems that no SPF is really strong enough. Hadn't thought of the Tuberose Gardenia -- now there's a diva scent!

Anonymous said...

I am lucky enough to call a little island off the gulf coast of Florida home, Anna Maria Island. And it's funny trying to maintain a perfume habit here. There are very few fragrances that truly work here. The air is usually very warm and quite thick with a salty sweet scent all of it's own. You can't compete with it you just incorporate it and compliment it. And when you throw in the sub-tropical humidity on top off it a big oriental will downright suffocate you.
Scents that work here must be sort of weighty, or the air will just eat it up. Montale Intense Tiare, SL Datura Noir,MPG's Bahiana, Ava Luxe Venus Sands, Monyette Paris, and even a little sexy gourmand can work like Pilar and Lucy's EFoS. These fragrances all have pretty hevy basenotes to anchor them. I'd love to find even more!

I guess any place you live can pose it's challenges but when our so called winter arrives I barely have a few days to dust off the big guns like the Guerlains, and Carons.
Oh well, the price I pay to live in paradise;-)

*love this blog, BTW, keep up the good work!!

Olfacta said...

Hi K -- I know Anna Maria well; my grandmother lived in Bradenton and we went there at least twice a year all during my childhood; my favorite was Coquina Beach.

I'll put your suggestions on the to-be-sampled list. Thanks for the compliment, too!

Aparatchick said...

At the beach I end up smelling like whatever my SPF 75 smells like, plus saltwater and seaweed. Not lovely.

Please, no more posts about St. George, or anywhere in that area. Hardly anyone knows about it, and we Floridians aren't telling .... ;-)

Olfacta said...

Hi A -- That's kind of how I feel too, but at least here in Atlanta, St. George isn't such a well-kept secret - and since the island is preserved and regulations strict, I don't know if we'll be seeing Destin any time soon (God forbid) -- also, it's so hard to get to. But I do get your point; paved paradise and so on...

Victoria said...

This brings back so many memories! My husband and I have been to St.George many times when we lived in the South. We've recently moved to Seattle and I don't see us visiting St.George anytime soon :(
But, the Pacific coast offers some wonderful odors...
When we would visit I would choose one perfume to associate with the trip. I have worn EL Azuree Soleil (pretty much the same as Bronze Goddess) with Queen Helene Cocoa Butter Lotion. Others include Demeter Fuzzy Navel, Kai with Bain de Soleil, Diptyque Oyedo, and the last trip I wore L'Occitane Citrus Verbena.