Return ticket to VanillaVille.

As a child, I used to eagerly wait for the neighborhood sassafras trees to turn color in early autumn. The flame-red hue of a fall sassafras seems to broadcast a warning -- step back! -- but if you pluck one leaf and crease it with your thumbnail, you're rewarded with an unlikely gift: the sweet, appetizing scent of a vanilla ice-cream root beer float.

Today I've received a similar gift from a completely unexpected source: VanillaVille, a perfume I thought I knew well. With every wearing up until this moment, it has knocked me backwards with its deep, dark potency. But today, it has chosen to speak quietly rather than shout-- and I'm able to understand it better. Unanticipated notes (sweet myrrh, benzoin, anise, dried herbs) and dimensions (balsamic, medicinal) keep rising to the fore. Second by second, I'm discovering something new about a scent I thought I had figured out: a lissome, wistful, innocent side hidden behind the bravado.