Before I became a bony, arrogant, and selfish teenage snob, I was a shy, chubby bookworm with a crew cut, thick glasses, and a sense of modesty that bordered on the nutty — I wouldn’t even let bare ankles show between pants and shoes.
My prepubescent self was inhibited and stubborn, but also kinder than the "Teen-to-Come" — I would actually do things to please others. My father loved fishing and wanted me to love it too, so I humored him and always said "yes" when he asked me to go on fishing trips. I didn’t like handling the smelly crabmeat bait or seeing and hearing fish struggle after being caught, or getting seasick as monstrous swells would almost capsize the boat, but I enjoyed the fragrant sea breezes, the warm sun, the boat rides, navigating around old buoys and isolated lighthouses, seeing the herons, hawks and ducks that flew near us.
Today, I live far from those fishing grounds and the only boats I ride are ferries, but when I smell Montale’s Blue Amber fragrance I am reminded of those childhood fishing trips by an olfactory jolt — a jolt that conjures a time, a place, even a "self" that disappeared long ago.
Blue Amber includes notes of bergamot, Bourbon geranium, patchouli, coriander, vetiver, vanilla and amber. I can discern each of those notes during the life of the scent, but when those notes begin to bounce off each other, dissipate, flare up, and meld, I smell things decidedly un-perfume-like — a brief hint of fuel and exhaust fumes, the chemical smell of mosquito repellant. I also detect a sharp 'dry cloth' scent, redolent of the stiff, heavy waxed-cotton jackets and caps my father and I wore on our boat; they smelled, not unpleasantly, of sun-baked salt — salt from the sea, salt from sweat. At the very end of Blue Amber’s development I smell a soft, summery sea breeze, lightly (and sweetly) scented with dried reeds.
Most people I’ve let sample Blue Amber do not like it after the initial strong amber blast begins to fade — and if you don’t have a fondness for the scents of outboard motors, bug repellant and the sea, you may not appreciate it either. Blue Amber is sold on the Montale website as a scent for women and I strongly disagree with that categorization; this is a unisex fragrance. The lasting power of the Eau de Parfum is excellent.
Nostalgia is free but I’m happy to add a "scent-track" to pleasant memories. For buying information, see the listing for Montale under Perfume Houses.