Foodie Sunday- Fathers Day, The Summer Solstice and a fabulous food & fragrance giveaway from yours truly and Roxana Villa!
My father was the parent who instilled in me my life long passion for plants. Before he suffered his first stroke, dad was a painter who crafted huge canvases splashed with vast rich swaths of color. Deeply in love with the impressionists, his gardens reflected the richness of his favorite Monet's and Van Gogh's and like Monet he set out to create his own Giverny My childhood yard was incredibly beautiful, filled with fragrant Rugosa Roses and Lilies of all types. In the spring there were fragrant clouds of narcissus and daffodil everywhere followed by vast bouquets of peonies and iris. My father could make anything grow. He had a beautiful terrace that was covered with a wisteria vine that although it had not bloomed in 10 years as a gift to me he worked on it all Spring the year that I was to be married. The morning of my wedding I walked out and noticed the blooms and later that day I was married to my beloved husband under that magical bower of sweetly scented blossoms, the best wedding gift ever!
I always thought that my father had a fairies touch and perhaps he truly does, but his gardens were crafted through his deep and intimately personal understanding of the natural world. He knew that the very essence of life itself although seemingly effortless was truly fragile and could be destroyed too easily…he warned us endlessly of the folly of depleting natural resources without any understanding of how they were used in the extraordinary dance of connection to the world around us. He hated companies like Monsanto and Dow, companies he believed were capable of unleashing great devastation as a result of their unrelenting pursuit to poison our lovely world for their own profit. Way back then he was worried about his honeybees and taught me early just what it would mean to humanity as a whole if there were ever a dramatic die off in the hive populations, because we desperately need these hardworking little creatures to ensure our food supplies all year round. It’s that simple. No pollinators, no food or for my fellow perfumistas; no Flowers, no perfume!
Because my father holds a Masters in Biology as well as Fine Arts his education allowed him blend his artistic visions with a real understanding of what was needed to create a beautiful home for all of his plants. No pesticides ever and his soil was dark and rich, he'd pick up rich handfuls and smell it....he could tell what it needed simply by the feel and scent and blessedly he taught me to do the same. I'll never forget when they first started selling cocoa hulls to use for mulching. My father’s gardens were always a riot of color and fragrance but with the addition of the rich chocolate perfuming the dark moist earth they became a symphony of exquisite scentual dimension.
My father weaned us on Thoreau and Rachel Carson and he took a very holistic approach to his gardens, well before it was "chic" to do so. To him, doing things organically was what made sense, he didn't use pesticides and herbicides because every bug was invited and he delighted in the wee flowers that would pop up all over his lawn. His perennial beds were great blowzy things teeming with life....dragonflies and Praying Mantis, ladybugs and butterflies flittered everywhere but his favorites were the bees and judging from the amount of them they seemed to know it. He loved them all from the large soft bodied ones to the little honeybees that danced from flower to flower with their legs and bodies covered with pollen. I spent many years with him while he tended his lovely gardens, quietly working alongside while he pruned, coaxed and cajoled his flowers and fruits into huge and heavily sensual blossom. I am forever left with the memories of how those gardens would smell in the early part of the morning, petals and leaves dripping with dew and laced with “his” honeybees so hard at work. If you’re quiet around them, you can actually get close enough to a honeybee to smell their own perfume. It is sweet and very musky, deeply provocative and strangely sensual. As a child I really wasn’t aware of what I was smelling, I just knew that it was strange yet totally wonderful and somehow very private. I’m fairly sure that those earliest fragrance impressions were completely responsible for my almost obsessive fascination with fragrance and food and sex. “To Bee or not to bee that is the question….” and you all know that I’ll always choose “to bee” no matter the context!
My father would have found a kindred spirit in my dear friend and Natural perfumer Roxana Villa, who has learned to tend her honeybees organically with as little interference as possible. Roxana’s “Warrior Girls” as she affectionately calls them live up in her lovely home in the Topanga Canyon area and they are as happy as can be and hard at work producing a bit of honey for her family and beeswax for her sumptuously beautiful solid perfumes. She describes the smell of her hives as feral and sexual with a delightful musk. She has created a wonderful perfume to be released on the Summer Solstice on the 21st of June called “To Bee” which I haven’t had the pleasure of sniffing yet but I know that I will love it. She describes it as being full of musk and leather, yet sweet and warm like the smell of her hives with a lovely base created from her tinctured honeycomb that sounds lovely, all yummy oozy honeyed warmth and dripping with caramel and a accord of sweet clover absolute which she says is filled with the warm sweet hay notes of the hive….and well to me sounds like the recipe for a truly lovely roll in the hay!
I’ll have a wonderful sample of Roxana’s “To Bee” to giveaway to one lucky reader along with a wonderful yet to be determined jar of fabulous honey in honor of this years Summer Solstice, my 92 year old father and our wonderful native American honeybees whose populations are slowly healing due to the careful tending of their hives by “Bee Warriors” like Roxana and her friends from The Backwards Beekeepers group.
Check out their site if you’d like to learn more about helping our devastated honeybee populations. Until recently we’ve ignored that most simple fact that would help insure our survival …because of the massive overuse of pesticides and other poisons our honeybee populations have dwindled to a dangerous tipping point ; in our lifetimes the plight of our native bees is the proverbial canary in a coal mine; an alarm bell pealing incessantly to try to tell us to stop the insanity before the danger to our beloved Gaia reaches the point of no return.
If you want to smell this delightful new perfume just leave me a comment and let me know what you’re going to be doing with the honey I’m sending!
I’ll start…ripe peaches soaked in truffled honey and muscat , served with fresh shortbread and whipped cream…In bed. How about you?
Roxana Villa’s newest fragrance will be released (after June 21st) at her store.
Photograph of To Bee by Roxana Villa
Photograph of Bee Balm in my fathers garden by Beth Schreibman Gehring