The year is almost over. For those lucky souls who live in the moment, or who look ahead with hope and excitement, this time of year can be joyous. I’m the sort who glances back at the about-to-end year, who thinks of the good things the year brought and the things it took away. For me, New Year’s Day is always a pensive time, but in my last post of 2006, I’d like to keep things light, or should I say pink, and eulogize a frivolous thing: a candle.
In a cursory, fifth-grade art class, my teacher asked me, out of the blue, that dull question: "Kevin, what’s your favorite color?" Always wanting to be precise, I felt time quickly pass as my mind hunted for the right answer. Was it tangerine orange? Grass green? Or the blue-purple of my nicest wool sweater? “What’s that blue called?” I thought, "Gentian?" Finally, my eyes rested on my friend Meredith’s knit cap. It was pink and I liked pink, and pink was pink, so I said, "Pink". No one laughed, not even the boys; but the teacher said: "Pink is for girls". I didn’t flinch. I looked at the teacher and said to her, with all the sang-froid I could muster at age ten, "Orange then".
The teacher didn’t know me very well, didn’t realize telling me that someone or something was "off-limits" or "crass" or "too fancy" or "sinful" or "unwearable", or was in any way distasteful or risqué, was to send me running in that person’s or object’s or activity’s direction. My 'study' of and eventual regard for pink was born out of being told it was Reserved — for girls.
Today, I am a big pink fan. I love walls and wood furniture painted with soft, dusty “Paris Pink.” I love the vibrant flamingo pinks of Maharajah’s silks and pink sapphires. I love the softest pink imaginable: the delicate winter-pink skins of Chinese red birch trees. Who can resist Fra Angelico’s enchanting pinks? (I know — many of the pinks one sees in Renaissance paintings are, in fact, faded reds, but doesn’t that attest to the power of pink to endure?)
I love to eat and drink pink: strawberry ice cream, watermelon, rose jelly, rosés, infused Russian vodkas, tinted pink with fresh raspberries or currants.
In my garden pink flowers reign: dahlias, daphnes, zinnias, cosmos, and, of course, clove-scented "pinks". Shirley and Iceland poppies, in blushing conch-shell pinks and salmon shades, bloom in profusion in early summer. Sarah Bernhardt peonies are a demure pink but their swollen heads take deep bows as they offer their overwhelming scent, best smelled from a respectful distance (a strange brew of roses, singed feathers, and wood ash). Bending backwards, seeking refuge under my porch roof, the fragrant Bourbon rose Madame Ernst Calvat blooms from spring thru winter, proving pink is no sissy. Audacious Cleopatra camellias, smelling strongly of pollen, honey and jasmine, flaunt their delicate blossoms in late November or early December, daring autumn’s chill and rain to interfere with their show.
English Bulldogs have cool, rose-petal-soft pink bellies that are made to be rubbed. Pink cheeks are cute. And pink noses? When I see one on an orange cat with green eyes I’m delighted.
I raise a pinky to pink and to all who appreciate it.
Fade to Gray
Diptyque's Roses candle in pink glass and pink wax has been discontinued. After a mad and best-selling dash around the globe (the candle was featured in magazine spreads around the world), its limited-edition run is over. Flushed with success, the pink-sheathed candle has been "retired".
Years ago, at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, glossy cinnabar-hued incense sticks produced pink smoke as they burned. The pink vapor gathered first in circular puffs that resembled flowers. These misty flowers slowly disintegrated, becoming a perfumed fog that spread out over the temple grounds and tinted the air pink. Even though it was midday, the pink atmosphere evoked the "rosy steps" of dawn.
I’ve never found the incense that produced pink smoke and maybe it’s for the best. A brief exalted experience, a treasured moment, gets its rose-colored aspect from its rarity. Perhaps that is the idea behind limited editions of perfumes?
Diptyque's Roses candle smells of fragrant dewy rose petals tossed with fresh rose geranium leaves. Diptyque will continue to produce the wonderful Roses candles — but will they smell as rosy in clear glass and white wax?
I wish you all a happy and healthy 2007 — and if Diptyque is reading, they can make my new year a little happier by creating a candle and room spray in Winter Sweet (Chimonanthus praecox); it would be lovely presented in a pale yellow, opaque glass container.
For buying information, see the listing for Diptyque under Perfume Houses.