When I was a kid, my grandparents had a place in the country. I use the word “place” to be deliberately vague for the opposite reason that rich people refer to their mansions as cottages. Specifically what they had was a trailer, parked at the bottom of a gravel driveway on several wooded acres clinging near the top of one of the Shawangunk mountains. It wasn’t even a double wide, just a compact one bedroom with aluminum sides.
Before I was old enough to feel pressure to aspire to a higher social class or to be ashamed of the word, we either said we were going to the trailer or up the country. I spent somewhere between a quarter to a half of the weekends of the 1970s there. For an inquisitive and imaginative child, it was paradise. We hunted for mushrooms, waded in streams, told ghost stories by campfire, and fished in the shadows of the ruins of my great-grandmother’s boarding house, which had burned down in the 1920’s.
Once a week, my grandpa drove me the ten miles or so to the general store to buy candy and comic books. Maybe she was watching out the window for our car to go by, but somehow my best friend Gloria always knew which days we did that and showed up as if by magic. (We had a black rotary phone with a party line that only worked intermittently, and if it was working my grandmother claimed that our neighbor Angela was listening in on the phone calls anyway, so if you wanted to talk to someone you walked down the road and knocked on their door.)
For reasons that are lost to my adult memory, Gloria and I always hid in my grandpa’s garden shed to eat the candy and read the comic books. Maybe it was because my grandmother was constantly hounding me for being “fat,” a painful judgment I absorbed as true, though photographs from the time indicate otherwise. Maybe we didn’t want to share the candy with the adults, or maybe we just wanted our own secret place, as demonstrated by our penchant for tying ropes around the trunks of the tall pines on our sprawling front lawn and covering them with blankets to make forts.
Fat-shaming aside, these were wonderful times, and Imaginary Authors‘ new fragrance Cape Heartache reminds me of them, which is why as much as I enjoy the presentation, I feel this joyous scent is misnamed. With notes of Douglas Fir, Pine Resin, Western Hemlock, Vanilla Leaf, Strawberry, Old Growth, and Mountain Fog, it is said to recall the bittersweet memories of a failed love affair, but for me it recalls the sticky hands of happy childhood days on the mountain. Josh Meyer’s inspiration is his own beloved Pacific Northwest, but it immediately transports me back to the fresh air, dappled leaves, beds of pine needles and homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie of my own little corner of the central Hudson Valley.
The predominant notes of the fragrance are pine and strawberry, notes one would not think would work together, but their pairing is truly inspired. I should note that I find strawberry nauseating in every other fragrance in which I have ever tried it, so even people to whom these notes sound sick-making should seek it out for sampling. It is a crisp and clear fall day of a fragrance with moderate sillage and excellent longevity.
Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again, and in my case when it comes to up the country it’s almost literally true, because our trailer has been gone for twenty years now, and even finding the property it sat on is difficult, given that it was unincorporated land. I’m asking my dad to draw me a map on a napkin (what we used to do for visitors), because this fragrance has me posting wistfully on Facebook that I would like to buy a ramshackle mansion up there and start an artists’ colony.
My friend Deanna of Doggie Dojo saw my post and suggested that Tumbleweed Tiny Houses might be a more practical way to satisfy this dream, and they were so delicious-looking (and reminiscent of the trailer in its no-space-wasted mentality) that I actually started searching for property. There is a lot available on a lake in Pine Bush, the closest nearby town when I was growing up, and while this is not something I could do right now, pricing indicates that it is not a pipe dream either. We’ll see if I care enough to actually follow through, but in the meantime, I urge everyone to try Cape Heartache and see what dreams it inspires in you.
Imaginary Authors Cape Heartache is available exclusively from Olfactif as of this writing, for $85 for 60 ml, with an $18 discount if you are already a member. I received the sample this review is based upon as part of my monthly subscription to Olfactif, and have no material connection to either Olfactif or Imaginary Authors.