When ice commandeers the landscape around the middle of January, the hallowed month of Þorri begins. Some celebrate Þorrablót -- the ancient feast sacred to the Norse god of strength -- with hákarl (fermented sharkmeat) washed down with lashings of homemade akavit. Me, I become enamored of a brand new raspberry rose.
My ideal wintertime raspberry rose is more than just a combination of two aromachemical elements, one flower, one fruit. It must be a cozy, syrupy, gourmand concoction -- sweet, spicy, and maybe even a little puerile. It must start a fire in me and keep it fed through the dark times. It must take the edge off of Þorri's chill. Not a lot to ask, is it?
Part of my ritual involves the recitation of all the previous years' raspberry roses, their names forming a compulsive litany. In 2010, I wore Parfums de Nicolaï Balkis. In 2011, I wore Christian Lacroix Tumulte. In 2012, it was Parfumerie Générale Brûlure de Rose. And in 2013, it was... wait. Is this saga missing a stanza?
After Superstorm Sandy brutalized us in October 2012, the entire stretch encompassing Hallowe'en, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and my birthday (during Þorri, natch!) proved a sodden, undifferentiated mass of pessimism. Everyone I knew was depressed. Everyone. Various perfumista penpals expressed confidence that things would soon be "back to normal" for us, but what did they know? At such a distance from the storm's epicenter, they could never see it as we did... and now, with homelessness, crime, and heroin use skyrocketing in the places where Sandy made landfall, normality here is nothing but a memory.
Maybe it was for this reason that I blocked out the one raspberry rose that got me through the post-storm season: Anna Sui Original. She is so very quiet, you know-- unobtrusive, not willing to interrupt your train of thought. Her heart is true, and she keeps your secrets-- even when you need them back. Mum's the word... now and forever.
As I look back through my posts of that period, I find no other raspberry roses which comforted me. Frédéric Malle's Portrait of a Lady? A cruel chypre whose berry reads like a droplet of red blood on a woman's lip. Ineke's Briar Rose? Though it possesses the proper scent elements, it does not provide succor-- a non-negotiable criterion in the bleak wintertime.
At this very moment, Winter Storm Janus is barreling across the Appalachians in our direction. I'm wearing Yves Rocher's Rose Absolue, which is everything I need it to be: pink-cheeked, liqueur-sweet, as encouraging as a bright smile. If I hadn't felt the chill of Þorri approaching, I might never have started eyeing what was left in this sample. But sometimes the right antidote presents itself at the right time-- and Þór himself knows, we need all the strength we can lay our hands on if we're to make it through to spring.