I like to take a little something home with me each time I go to the beach. Sometimes I find a pretty piece of sea glass or a perfect creamy white shell. These little tokens stay on my desk for a time or the windowsill in the kitchen. But eventually, they seem out of place, especially when the light changes in September.
Wearing summer perfumes is another way of pocketing souvenirs. When I summered on Cape Cod as a teen, Houbigant's Chantilly was never beyond my reach in the envelope compartment of my small floral suitcase. Later, I swapped fragrances with my best friend and wore her Emeraude for my strawberry oil roll-on. Our scents made their way into our long windswept hair and the collars of the open jackets we wore at night. Most perfume back then could be bought very inexpensively at local drugstores and we tried everything from Chanel 5 to Jean Nate. Later, I discovered Love's Baby Soft which was catnip for not only my boyfriend at the time, but also for me. It was like a heady drug and I could have rolled around in it - I craved its innocent scent so much. It was the soft powdery element that I wanted - so childlike and tender.
As a young mother, I was given Elizabeth Arden's Eau Fraiche, a light cult classic that's meant to be sprayed all over the body. As it dries down, it smells like fresh-cut lilies that are just about to burst forth in a sparkling crystal vase. It's delicious but alas...the fragrance is ephemeral and vanishes quickly, much like the season.
My point is that special perfumes worn only in summer, are like bright picture postcards sent home to be cherished and read and then re-read. They are unexpected keepsakes of our warm-weather days. And when we suddenly happen upon them later in winter - clinging lightly to a scarf or sweater, or dabbed behind our ears after finding a bottle tucked away in a drawer - we are transported back to our golden fleeting summers. As for the messages in those bottles? It is but the same - wish you were here.