The Smell of Freedom - 2014 Edition of "Smells Like Canada"

MRS. LANDINGHAM: Consumer Reports rates it very high. It's very safe. And when you get inside, there's this... (Mrs. Landingham gestures, trying to find the right word).
BARTLET: Smell? MRS. LANDINGHAM: How did you know?
BARTLET: It's the smell of freedom...and the chemicals they treat the dashboard with.

(Aaron Sorkin, "The West Wing", S2 E21 "18th and Potomac")

I've covered almost any scent that I consider Canadian in the last 2 years since I've started "Smells Like Canada". Douglas fir, maple syrup, rhubarb, tobacco, mildew, snow, artemisia (known in this parts of the world as "sage" even though it's not), elderflowers, Canadian gin, cherry red cedar, and castoreum from the Canadian beaver. To that list I can only add two more scents that somehow got ignored in previous years:
1) Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) aka False Acacia - a native to the Eastern parts of the continent; and which smells like a sweet blend between heliotrope and orange blossom.

2) Linden blossoms (Tilia vulgaris) which although are not native to here, are in full bloom at this very moment, and line many of the streets and boulevards of Vancouver, painting the city's olfactory landscape with the colour of clear, blue sky.

3) Sweet Grass (Hierochloe odorata), aka Holy Grass or Vanilla Grass -
neatly braided and ceremonially burnt by the prairie First Nation people for its coumarin-sweet character to invite positive energy into the circle (after it's been cleansed with sage).

This year I want to focus on what freedoms smells like. To the fictional American President Bartlett it's the smell of new car. What is it to you?

To me it's the smell of chlorine as you approach the pool in the summer. The smell of hay stacks on which you can jump and free-fall with complete oblivion to any risk of injury. The scent of saltwater and marine life at low tide - complete with fermented seaweed, muscles and barnacles and jet fuel and boat fuel. And the knowledge that for the next few hours the world's worries will come to a halt because you're at the beach. The smell of coconutty tanning oil and tropical sunscreen won't hurt either. But now I'm really getting carried away...

No matter what smell association freedom, summertime or Canada has to you - freedom itself is priceless. And the commitment to this value is what makes this country so special. Of course it doesn't hurt that we're not really at war with anyone, at least not at our borders. Which of course makes for a lot less conflict of interest between "freedom" and "safety". Something that a lot of Canadians are either not aware of - or just haven't ever needed to experience that kind of conflict.
To be a Canadian means to live in peace, in a country where everyone is indeed considered equal, and where the mandate in public schools is to educate our young children to accept the other without prejudice. As long as public schools are open (which is a whole other issue...). Additionally we get to drink clean water and breathe pure air. Or at least cleaner and purer than many other countries - both industrial and third world ones. Yes, we can be better, but that does not mean we should not appreciate what we do have going for us. Not to mention we don't need to worry about our kids getting kidnapped, or murdered, by terrorists, and that pretty much tops it all, doesn't it? 
We are truly blessed.

And now, to this year's contest: What does freedom smell to you? Add your thoughts in the comment section, or add any Canadian smells that I might have missed.
Winner gets a mini of my Gaucho perfume, which is the closest thing to the smell of sweetgrass; and incense cones that are inspired by the First Nations ceremonial smudging. It has tobacco leaf and sage (true sage from the Mediterranean, not the white sage grown locally). It smells amazing, and I only share this with very few people.

Tirzah: New Linden Blossom Soliflore

Ayala Moriel is proud to announce the launch for our new summery soliflore: Tirzah.
Tirzah is Hebrew for Linden, and the name for the newest addition to my soliflore collection - a linden blossom soliflore! The sweet and tart elegance of linden blossom is at the heart of this light and refreshing summery fragrance.

The timing for the launch of Tirzah couldn’t be better: linden blossoms are in full bloom throughout the month of June, emanating their delicate, honey-like aroma in the air. And what more - Tirzah is particularly suitable for a heat wave, with its top notes of green lemon zest and the cucumber-like mimosa, chilling heart notes of iris roots and a clean woody base of Fokienia with a hint of hay.

Tirzah has a deep green coloured juice and comes in parfum extrait (alcohol base) only. As linden blossom seems to be the favourite of only select few, Tirzah will be only a limited edition for now. It will remain part of the collection only for this summer. If it proves to be exceedingly popular, we will add it to our regular collection. Otherwise, we’ll just bring it in again next summer…

Top notes: Green Lemon, Mimosa, Elemi, Frangipani Absolute
Heart notes: Linden Blossom, Guiacwood, Iris Roots
Base notes: Fokienia (Siamwood), Hay Absolute, Ambrette Seeds

Illustration: Rusalka by Konstantin Vasiliev
(If you're wondering why I picked this image - it best portrays the scent visually in my opinion, just like hiding from the heat of sun among the cool shady trees by the river; and also it has trees from the linden family all over it)

Scene from
Die Trapp-Familie (1956)
The Von Trapps are singing Der Lindenbaum by Schubert, a beautiful Lied about a linden tree, from "Der Winterriser" (D911) Lieder Cycle. It is originally for piano and voice, but I love this a-capela interpretation with the beautiful, innocent children's voice. It really reminds me of the delicate scent of linden...

Fiori di Tiglio

Fiori di Tiglio, originally uploaded by luigi.strano.

Linden Blossoms from the Tilia Vulgaris tree are prized for the flavour they lend to honey, and are also used as an herbal remedy when steeped in hot water to make a tisane often called “tilleul”. Linden blossom are very calming and are used in folklore and herbal medicine to treat conditions such as hysteria, anxiety, cold and fever, palpitations and migraines.

Linden is often refered to as “lime blossom” (which is its common name in Britain) but should not be confused with the citrus lime (Citrus aurantifolia), which bears the green lemon-like fruit that you might know from your favourite Mexican food or your Key Lime Pie. The two share nothing in common, neither botanically nor olfactory wise.

The principle constituent of linden blossom is farnesol. This may explain why it is not commonly used in mainstream perfumery. Farnesol is significantly cheaper as a synthetic than the linden blossom absolute (and obviously is often used to adulterate the true absolute...). Therefore, it is not surprising that linden blossom as a note is fairly rare overall. A few perfumes that incorporate linden blossom are mostly delicately green, fresh, light floral, for example:

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s Goddess
Fresh’s Violet Moss (1997)
L’Artisan Parfumeur’s La Chasse au Papillons
Ormonde Jayne’s Frangipani Absolute (2003)
Parfums Delrae Début (2004)

Linden Blossom Soliflores:
Aftelier’s Linden Blossom (discontinued, but available through their website as special order through the Product Archives page)
D’ORsay Tilleul (1995)
Jo Malone’s French Lime Blossom (1995)

Natural Perfumes Containing Linden Blossom:
JoAnne Bassett’s Le Voyage (2000)
Aftelier’s Linden Blossom (see above)
Ayala Moriel’s Kinmokusei and the new perfume, Tirzah (see next post announcing its launch today!)

Back to the top