Monday, August 14, 2006
Aromatics Washed Upon the Shores . . . and other strange considerations
I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a lucky person, though I've had my share of luck, both good and bad. I recently had a spate of very fortunate luck on Ebay in the form of true ambergris resin. I won't go into details except to say that I walked away with a 'steal of a deal'. I'm sure the fact that plunking down good cash for something that may be fake had something to do with the reason I was the one and only bidder on this particular hunk of 'gris. But I take chances (which explains my streaks of bad luck) on things like this ~ you never know, right? So I get my chunk of ambergris (grey with black), open the little bag it came in, and inhale deeply through my nose, hoping to capture a fragment of scent that will remind me of something amber~ish. Big mistake. Not only does ambergris NOT smell like amber (in any way, shape or form), it smells distinctly of crap ~ or some other bodily excretion you don't want to get too close to. Well, it is whale puke. What was I expecting?
So what does it smell like, you ask. It's sweet in the same way that butter and cream are 'sweet'. It has a marked greasy smell to it that isn't altogether disgusting. It also has some swampy aspects to it ~ like rotting seaweed. And there's a bad breath-like accent floating in it ~ like standing next to someone with a touch of halitosis. I know these descriptions aren't flattering and they're not meant to turn you off of ambergris because the 'gris does have SOMETHING. Something that lures me in closer, like the smell of puppy breath or the warm, sweaty head of a little boy.
And since I'm on the subject of animal smells, what's all this about goat hair tincture? Frankly, when I first heard about it, I mentally retched. When I was a kid, my family raised goats. Big, stinky, rutting billy goats. It was my experiences with these nasty smelling creatures that a) led me to refer to my ex-husband as the Goat God, and b) causes me to run swiftly in the opposite direction of any petting zoo I stumble upon.
However, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me. Like ambergris, goat hair tincture has its place in the world of natural animal derived essence, more than civet or musk deer given the cruelty issues. I mean, I don't think the goats mind an occassional trim. My problem would be getting close enough to the animal to cut the hair without puking on my shoes first. Yeah, it's totally psychological, I'm sure. I was scarred by goats at an early age. I've got a problem with them. Ok. I can live with that. Can I live with the tincture? Can YOU live with it? What do consumers think of goat sauce? I don't know. We'll have to wait and see what pans out ~ get it? 'Pans', 'Pan the Goat God' ~ har har yuk yuk. Ok, I'm done.