becoming a nose…

Monday, we covered 5 new synthetic raw materials,  quite normal, but one of them, isocyclocitral, was particularly intense.  Almost everyone, including the teacher had a headache.  Only the Japanese students and I were not effected until one day later, yesterday.  In the afternoon, after the class with synthetics, I continued working, but with the naturals, all in 10% dilution in alcohol and on tester strips, smelling and relearning  all of the rose family, the balsam family and the aromatics.  (my nose or sense of smell has changed profoundly in the last few weeks and I must relearn everything on a much deeper level)  I left school realizing that i had worked with the most raw materials in one day ever. 

So then, yesterday, Tuesday, I hit my first overload.  I was just into a test of 10 raw synthetic and suddenly I got really light headed and felt my blood pressure drop and heart rate speed up a bit. It was like the air got sucked out of me.  That was it, for the first time, I had to call it a day and head home, chugging water, to lie down and let my body process.  It was interesting to experience.

Since the beginning of the course, all of us have developed a capacity for processing/understanding/remembering more at a time.  Essentially, from working so hard, we are stronger now.  Interestingly, although we are stronger, we are also much more sensitive.  Many of the materials that I could barely smell at the beginning are now quite strong to my nose.  Now when I go for a hike, I really do feel like a blood hound.  It is so easy to smell- everything and with such ease.  I get nuances that I only had the faintest hints of before- and I now have a fantastic language for what I smell .  For example, I can smell fresh crushed wild thyme between my fingers and realize the fruitiness of esters and the licorice of methyl chavicol as well as warm sweet notes of hay and musk with the green of cis 3 hexanol.  I can dissect scent, teasing it apart into its diaphanous fibres of effect.  And I know nothing yet!  This is only the beginning.  This is a life-long exploration.

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Jessica Buchanan

Canadian independent perfumer, designer, and entrepreneur.

2 thoughts on “becoming a nose…”

  1. How wonderful! I can almost smell the sweet smell. Hope your petite la tete has recovered from the overdose. Spring is here finally too. The songbirds are arriving along with the snow geese and far distantly overhead, the honking of the cranes, our namesake, the far reaching orator. It is in your blood.
    the far reaching orator.

  2. Bonjour, mon amie,
    More and more, your descriptions (And mind you, I can almost hear you speaking the words you write.) of the growing sensitivity of the “nose” you’ve acquired makes me wonder about how it affects your other senses, particularly your sense of taste, though touch and sight, and possibly hearing, must come into play, to some degree.
    Do you find yourself closing your eyes and touching a common fruit or plant or, even, a fabric, and have it give you a new experience?
    The everyday, normal, symbiotic relationship of food: smell, taste, touch, feel and sound must play a whole new role for you.
    Has the aroma of everyday life taken a toll on, or has it enhanced, your sensoraries? (Is this a word?!)
    So many questions! Only the “nose” knows!
    You say that all this is making you grow stronger. Isn’t it like when you started yoga? A gradual build to each level, both physical and spiritual?
    Tomorrow I leave for Vancouver. Three days and two nights will be too short of a trip, for this one of the most beautiful and diverse cities in the world. But I must get back for my hiking trip, sans “nez”, to the Grand Canyon.
    P.S. This bears an additional comment: after reading your mom’s notes, I can see where you get your way with words! 🙂

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