On dewy summer morning, you’re the first in the house to wake. You take a moment to breathe in the morning air, stretch out, and enjoy the feeling of just lying in bed, with an endlessly bright, sunny day ahead of you.
This, in a nutshell (or, should I say, a bottle) is what Miller Harris’ Rose Silence evokes for me. Form early April until late September, I slither out of bed, grab my trustee bottle from the mantlepiece and spritz, letting the fresh, uplifting smell of freshly clipped roses waft around the corners and down the hall. It's a quiet, but invigorating moment to myself.
A little much, you say? Maybe. But humour me for a moment. The connection between scent and memory is scientifically indisputable. Ever noticed how catching a drift of a scent on the street on a passerby; of a bonfire maybe; or a freshly baked bread, can immediately bring back the near-tangible feel and image of a person from your past, a childhood summer or a wonderful meal shared between friends years ago? The reason for this trigger is directly related to the anatomy of the human brain. Incoming smells are first processed by the olfactory bulb, which starts in the nose and then runs along the bottom of the brain. This bulb is directly connected to two brain areas strongly connected to emotion and memory: the amygdala and the hippocampus. By the way, auditory and tactile information doesn’t pass through these areas. Which is why smell triggers noticeably more emotion and memory than the other senses. So there you go.
I know I had a couple of good encounters with rose gardens in my early life. When I trace the memory, Rose Silence brings me back to my Grandmother’s country garden by the lake in Canada, where I spent my childhood summers. When I smell it, I can picture her lovely long wrinkled hands cutting a branch, handing me a crushed peta between her crooked fingersl, urging me to take a sniff. “Isn’t it wonderful, Monica” she'd say in her proper London accent, which seemed so exotic back then.
These days, in the evenings, or midwinter, I’ll wear something darker, muskier, more masculine —I’m a particular fan of Feuilles de Tabac once the leaves start to turn. But, while the days are long and bright, the rose is queen of my nose, the direct path to memories of summers past and a tangy, mandarin promise of warm air and crisp mornings to come.