Scent Semantics is a new monthly perfume blogger collaboration curated by Portia Turbo to bring together six writers from around the world to meditate on a single word, and then write about a fragrance they’ve chosen that best represents it.

Semantics (from Ancient Greek: σημαντικός sēmantikós, “significant”)[a][1] is the study of meaning, reference, or truth. The term can be used to refer to subfields of several distinct disciplines, including philosophy, linguistics and computer science.”

This month, Portia has asked us to apply the word BRAVE to a single scent.

When I first saw this month’s word, my initial thought was that I have not felt particularly BRAVE for the past year and a half. 

If anything, I have felt the opposite of brave: I have felt SCARED.

Scared and anxious for my family, friends, colleagues, and students. Scared for the future in the face of a seemingly endless pandemic, extreme weather due to climate change, increasing misinformation, distrust of institutions and experts, and entrenched political polarization. Resigned to possibly never feeling truly relaxed on a plane, in a train, or in an automobile ever again. Saddened by the possibility that hugs will always be cautious and kisses on the cheek will continue to feel unsafe.

But the more I considered it, the more I realized that there have been BRAVE moments. Not big acts of bravery like saving a trapped child from a ravine (don’t ask me why that example came to my mind first), but a myriad of little ones. These micro-acts of bravery included going grocery shopping in those early days of the pandemic when the world was shut down, locked up, and under quarantine. Ordering in to support my favorite restaurants when we weren’t sure how the virus was spread and contactless delivery seemed frightening to both deliverer and deliveree. Shivering six-feet apart from a friend on a park bench before vaccines were widely available.

It’s funny to think of how different the world is now. 

I’m back on campus for the first time in 2.5 semesters. Is it still strange? Yes. Not only does every masked face remind me of that, but also every sweaty, reduced breath through my K-95 mask (especially during long lectures). To be honest, sometimes I have to duck into an empty classroom just so I can take my mask off for a few precious minutes and exhale.

In those moments, especially right after I peel my mask off my face, I can really perceive the fragrance that I am wearing. K-95 masks blessedly filter out virus particles, but they also filter and muffle scent molecules too. Not all, but enough that when I remove mine, it’s like smelling in full color again.

My BRAVE fragrance for this month is Ormonde Jayne’s Montabaco — which has been my go-to teaching scent of the Fall 2021 semester. Sometimes I think about Montabaco as not being my tobacco fragrance since the French language teacher in me considers Linda Pilkington to be the actual owner of the possessive adjective “mon.” That being said, I’ve come to think of the “tabaco” less like “my” version of tobacco, and more like MY protector: strong enough to wear like a suit of armor, but soft enough to soothe and comfort. Montabaco is also a study in contrasts: dark and light, shadow and shine. All of which encapsulates how I’m feeling right now: more hopeful but not completely at ease.

I can’t wait to read my new crew’s individual takes on BRAVE. Please visit their blogs and subscribe to support (links in menu and below).


6 thoughts on “SCENT SEMANTICS 1: BRAVE”

  1. I agree, there has been much need for small moments of bravery since March 2020, especially in education at all levels. I have a sample of Montabaco which I’ll now seek out thanks to you! BTW, I never put together that the name is basically Mon Tabaco — duh! So thank you also for enlightening me on that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! It’s been inspiring to read everyone’s take on BRAVE. Tobacco fragrances are not generally my thing (too much chaw), but Montabaco is luminous. And you’re very welcome! I am also available to be your Perfume Trivial Pursuit Partner 🙌

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Montabaco is one of my favorites in general, and I have the Intensivo as well. The suede and tea notes, and the way the fragrance wafts in and out throughout the day, work really well. I’ve just started going back to the office a few days a week so am relating to that in-between feeling. Bon courage!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the Intensivo as well! My preference is for the OG Montabaco though because I love how airy it is — especially for a tobacco fragrance.I hope that your transition back to the office has been a good one so far. We’ve been back on campus since late August, but it still feels weird. Very familiar yet surreal at the same time. Un grand merci ! Bon courage à vous aussi !

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well you already know what I do for a living and I have been surrounded by unmasked individuals with poor hygiene for almost two years. My coats of armor with regard to fragrance have been Patchouli Nobile, Ganymede and Hippie Shit. And I spray Brigitte style (32 sprays) so I can smell myself through my mask. A force field.

    Liked by 1 person

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