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As November nears its end, I can’t help but feel a terrible sadness.  This is the time of year when I’m melancholy, a time to wave goodbye to the bright revelry of autumn and greet the gloom and doom of winter. Here in Northern California, the days are shorter and darker. The clear blue skies and sunny golden are traded in for gray upon gray. The end of autumn is a time for mourning.  The trees shed their last leaves like tears.  The earth sleeps and life is still.  It’s the death of a season and the year slowly withers and dies.

Jill McKeever, le nez behind For Strange Women perfumery, is an expert at painting olfactory landscapes.  As with any artform, her perfume creations are open to interpretation and each individual experience is different. For example, Scenthive’s review of November in the Temperate Deciduous Forest is a frame by frame slideshow celebrating the rustic warmth and comfort of autumn’s earthy romance while Worship At the House of Blues recalls fond childhood memories stomping around woodland hills.  I have a different take however. To me, November smells like a somber but beautiful musical composition evoking  solemnity and reverence.  A requiem for autumn’s lament.

Autumn Forest in Germany (photo via nationalgeographic.com)

Description:   November in the Temperate Deciduous Forest captures the familiar comfort and stillness of late autumn. This blend opens with the atmosphere of a wood cabin in the forest with traces of Lapsang Souchong tea brewing on a wood burning stove.

It evolves to reveal fallen leaves nestling into the earth and mushrooms sprouting across the damp forest floor. A chord of resins create an unexpectedly sweet finish reminiscent of the air after a long, cold morning of rain.

Notes: Mushroom, Olive Leaf, Black Tea, Neroli

From the Vial: Brightness against a deep, earthy backdrop.The harmonious blend between the mushrooms, olive leaf, and black tea is juxatposed against the high pitched neroli.

Wet on Skin:  The notes of black tea, olive leaf, and mushrooms remain consonant as the brightness of the neroli softens melting into the skin.  The scent is mellow, bittersweet, and gentle much like the timbre of a bass cello.

Dry Down: Development is a slow long draw on the bow releasing a deep and dark accord.  There’s a roasted, slightly bitter smokiness from the black tea that wafts slowly up into the air like musical notes in minor key weaving its way up the scale into nothingness. Warmth and comfort turns into a minty chilling sorrow as the darkness descends from the clouds and silence covers the forest floor.  There’s a feeling of desolation and loneliness, a heavy soulful mourning weighed down by the damp musty decaying leaves burrowed into the soil. It’s the smell of age and maturity, a pungent reminder that the cycle of life is about to end.  Standing with your feet rooted in the ground, you can’t help but contemplate your own mortality and realize you are also aging like the trees. On the final drydown, a sweet resinous melody emerges lifting heavy silence and despair. It’s the smell of rebirth, the sweet promise of hope that someday life will begin anew.

Sillage:  It stays close to the skin.  It’s a scent for your own personal pleasure, nobody else.

Longevity:  4 hours

Would I Buy a Full Bottle? I own a full bottle and as soon as it runs out, I’ll  buy another one.  I will keep doing this until it is discontinued which I hope Jill never decides to do.

Pricepoint: $

Season and Occasion: Hmmm…let me think about this one…autumn?

Final Verdict: It’s not very often I equate music with perfume.  I think this is ironic, since I’m a musician and as musicians we percieve the world in sounds.  However, November in the Temperate Decidiuous Forest is like music to my nose.  It has its own soundtrack and in this case it’s Sarabande from the Bach Suite No.2 for cello.  Just like Sarabande, November is a smooth and mellow composition.  It’s sad but beautifully evocative. It’s deep, dark, earthy, pungent, and bittersweet.  It’s the type of fragrance you listen to when you want to feel grounded and contemplate life.

For all you brooding types out there…

For Strange Women’s November in the Temperate Deciduous Forest: Available on Etsy

Want more reviews on For Strange Women? Check out my reviews here.

Next Up: Long Winter Farm Autumn Wreath Hand & Body Cream

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