06 November 2015

The scent of the flower

     When my dear friend Sylvia Fox was growing up in Pearl Lagoon there were Ylang-ylang trees growing everywhere.  Sylvia grew up poor, as many in Nicaragua did - and still do - but that didn't mean there weren't special things available.
     Sylvia's shown here at the edge of Volcan Masaya on our trip to Catarina, the small town where the Ylang-ylang trees that are now blooming at False Bluff came from some years ago (the smell in the air at the edge of the volcano is a far cry from that at False Bluff).

     The scent of the Ylang-ylang tree is said by many to be the basis for Chanel #5 and after having the Ylang-ylang bloom at False Bluff I can believe it. Sylvia said that as children she and her sisters would put Ylang-ylang flowers into alcohol...which turned out to be sort of a way of extracting the essential oil.
     On Sundays or on other special occasions these girls would perfume themselves with the Ylang-ylang scented, fast-evaporating alcohol.  Sylvia and I have laughed about this over the years, the fact that these young women along Nicaragua's Caribbean coast were using Chanel #5 decades ago...without even knowing it.
     For Sylvia's birthday this year one of my gifts to her was some Ylang-ylang scented alcohol in which I had steeped a couple of weeks' worth of flowers (and it really does smell like Chanel #5 whether that story is true or not).