Crushed (Tokyo Milk)

However gratefully we hand summer its hat, a certain wistfulness accompanies its slow, elegaic departure from our landscape. Fiery leaves, cobalt skies, and crisp weather will soon arrive to ease the transition-- but here in New Jersey, we're not out of the woods yet.

Our current climate -- sandwiched between the estival (true summertime) and autumnal terms -- is a month-long pent-breath pause known as the serotinal season. Serotiny is a natural phenomenon whereby certain plants (such as the pitch pines that carpet South Jersey's fabled Pine Barrens) only eject their seeds under extraordinary conditions. Drought is one. Wildfire is another. High heat forces pitch pine cones to split open, releasing the next generation of trees-- so what seems like a disastrous loss to us actually guarantees the forest's future.

It's evolution, baby!

Lasting roughly from from mid-August until the equinox, the serotinal season is a staccato confusion of parched, dusty days marked by heat lightning, hurricane warnings, wildfire alerts-- and longing. The best flowers have come and gone; luxuriant foliage that burgeoned over every fence just weeks ago now appears yellow and sad-- wilted, if not reduced to a crisp. There is no escaping the cruel eye of the sun, except by thundercloud or smoke plume towering over the Barrens-- but wouldn't we give anything for one more month of it? We know we can't. It's time for us to evolve, too.

So what to do until true autumn arrives? Me, I'll be cooling off with Crushed.

When I first sampled it back in late spring, I wasn't impressed. Why? All around, Nature was throwing flowers at me by the bushel-- first hyacinths, then lilacs, then magnolias, then honeysuckles. I had all I could stomach of lush greenery in real life-- what did I want with a perfume facsimile? But now, I breathe in Crushed with closed eyes and feel a strong sense of melancholy fondness. Each stage of its modulation, from milky floral to beach-dune sweetgrass to green-fig syrup to clean white musk, seems invested with a special pathos.

This, I think, is what we're losing as the year gives up the ghost. And I catch myself sniffing my wrists greedily, desperate lest any of these precious molecules fade too soon.

The wonderful thing is that they don't. Once sprayed, Crushed proves that it's here to stick around. With each note comes a courteous pause that allows you to enjoy what you're smelling now, reminisce about what has just faded, and anticipate what surprise may come next.

Just like a segue between seasons...

Scent Elements: Earth, moss, crushed herbs, wild grass, jasmine