My father-in-law died in 2007 after a twelve year battle with cancer. Before this, my husband was turning 40 in 2007 as well, and to commemorate the latter I was planning a whopper of a family vacation. We were going to rent a house right on the beach in the Outer Banks for a week, and by house I pretty much mean castle. Twelve bedrooms, a movie theater inside the house, a modern state of the art kitchen that would be used to serve meals prepared by a private chef– all of this stuff is surprisingly affordable in North Carolina if you have a large group. I’d initially planned to go somewhere exotic but my husband told me what he really wanted was to have the whole family together, and this was the only place that could both accommodate all of us and meet our needs. Chief among those needs was somewhere where Poppy could be comfortable in beautiful surroundings and see his six grandchildren, even if he couldn’t do much.
By the time the second half of the deposit was due, Poppy was already in deep decline. We didn’t want to admit this to ourselves so we went ahead and paid it, though not without also purchasing travel insurance. I remember my sister-in-law sending me a check but calling me to say, “He might not make it to July.” My response to her was, “I know. I’m just crossing my fingers that we get one more happy family vacation with everyone there.”
You already know how this story ends. He didn’t make it until summer and we had no heart for going to the Outer Banks without him. We got most of our money back and the family dynamics shifted and that particular dream faded.
It might have turned out terribly had we gone anyway. The whole family under one roof, even one with twelve bedrooms, could have gotten mighty crowded. It might have rained all week, and in retrospect it seems likely that we would have had medical emergencies. But because we never actually went, I still have this dream in my head of the perfect week. Everyone laughing and splashing in the surf, with Poppy sitting on the porch with a glass of sweet tea in his hand waving to us.
What any of this has to do with L’Artisan Poivre Piquant is this– on me it’s the phantom perfume, a wispy sweet dream like the vacation that never was. When I get any whiff of it at all, I smell sweet tea, and it immediately makes me think of southern beaches (though we never made it to OBX I’ve been to a few others). It would be lovely if I could actually smell it– or maybe it wouldn’t, maybe it would be awful and it’s just my imagination giving it a halo. Fragrantica lists the notes as honey, white pepper, milk, licorice, sugar and woody notes. I get the honey and sugar, and I seem to frequently perceive wood notes as black tea, so maybe I’m making sense. Or maybe I’m just projecting emotion onto something I never experienced.