Where My Jasmine Forest Blooms

Much of my scent vocabulary comes from Poltava, a town in central Ukraine where I spent the first 15 summers of my life. I was born in the capital city of Kyiv, but Berig, a hamlet near the town of Poltava, is our family nest. My mother’s line can trace its roots to this region as far back as the 17th century. Though in Ukraine’s tumultuous history four centuries are hardly ancient, this land exhorts an inexorable pull on me. Berig is our idea of heaven. I can describe without much effort how many trees are in the orchard and which of the peeling grey shutters has a rusty hook, but I also can recall the exact scent inside the water tank, the damp warmth of the tool shed, and the bitter odor of dandelion flowers.

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As you read Bois de Jasmin, you breathe in these scents along with me, because the roots of my jasmine forest, bois de jasmin, are in Berig. When describing the fragrance of carnations and roses, I think of the flowers my great-grandmother grew. They are my olfactive referents. And so I would like to take you to very place that inspired Bois de Jasmin, to my great-grandparents’ house in Berig.

The tour of Poltava proper with its white neoclassical buildings and mint-green churches we leave for another time. Instead, we head into the countryside. Our house is the pale pink one set into a lush thicket of cherry trees and lilac bushes. As I always do upon returning to Berig, I would walk through the orchard greeting each tree. I would rub the craggy bark of old cherry trees and offer you a sticky morsel of cherry resin, a favorite childhood treat that tastes of licorice and myrrh, like the edible version of Serge Lutens’s La Myrrhe.

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The house that inspired so many of my scented memories was built by my great-grandfather shortly after he returned from WWII, a young man whose head turned white and one of whose legs was left behind someplace in Kursk. He resumed his teaching at the local school and devoted the rest of his life to his students, garden, and family. The grey-roofed dwelling with dark enfilades and doors that creak at different registers was built by the soldiers of his division. When I walk around the house every evening to close the shutters, I wonder who decided to add the frilly brick decorations over the windows that seem charmingly out of place on the austere façade.

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Lozenges of yellow sunshine decorate the floor in the gallery kitchen, and the red woven rugs smell of sesame and toasted bread. Open the cupboards, and it is one scented impression after another: stale chocolates and chamomile, dried mint and valerian drops, vanilla and allspice, rusty coffee tin and sunflower seed oil. We would cook a feast and the scented kaleidoscope would twirl in an exhilarating rush—the sweetness of sautéed onions, the earthy heft of potato peels, the anise pungency of dill, the burnt  caramel of scalded milk, and the musky seduction of roasted pork belly.

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Serge Lutens’s Cuir Mauresque may smell to others of Moroccan markets and French leather, but to me it smells of the bookcase in my great-grandparents’ bedroom.  My love for reading and for the sweet perfume of old paper grew as soon as I could pry open its stubborn glass doors. My great-grandparents are resting under a tall pine tree at a cemetery less than a mile away, but to us remains their slender bookcase with the rosette carvings, stuffed three rows deep with heavy, leather-bound volumes of Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Lermontov and Pushkin, Natasha Rostova and Pierre Bezukhov, Oksana and Ironsmith Vakula, Tatiana and Onegin. I would invite you to curl in an armchair with a yellowing volume that smells of vanilla and vetiver roots.

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The clock chimes, marking the hour fifteen minutes too early, and while we wait for dinner, we would wander to another scented treasure trove–small low buildings, collectively called sarai. The word sarai means “palace” in Turkish, but in Ukrainian, it’s a garden shed. Dust dances in the air shot through with pale sunrays. When my great grandmother was alive, she stored rose and chrysanthemum cuttings here, and the green freshness dispersed the heavy musty odor.

Today, the space is just a repository of old things. There are stacks of my late grandfather’s military coats, chairs with missing cushions, and reproductions of famous paintings. The folk hero Ilya Muromets glances from his patinaed frame at the sad fairy tale maiden Alyonushka painted by a local plumber. At first you might wonder why I took you here, but soon you notice the caramelized odor of dried immortelle and pin it down as a note in Annick Goutal’s Sables.

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The “winter kitchen,” as we call a separate house built for my granduncle, is around the corner. My uncle died tragically before he could move in, and although the house is larger and newer than the one we occupy, we can’t imagine using it as living quarters. The sadness left its mark, and it’s used mainly for storage: drying onions, glass jars, garden supplies, laundry detergent, old newspapers from the 1970s telling the news of the Poltava sausage factories beating their production targets.

The space smells so much like Etro’s Messe de Minuit that for a moment I think that someone has spilled perfume. But it’s just the towering stacks of books and last year’s dried thyme. The time is measured by the monotonous buzz of the beetle hitting the misty glass of windows draped with lace curtains. We shake the plaster and cobwebs out of our hair, but the smell of old books and wet wood lingers on the skin.

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The garden beckons with its secret lilac groves, grape vine festooned cherry trees, and its herb and flower beds by which we could kneel for hours, comparing peppermint with lemon balm, crushing the silvery tendrils of bitter artemisia, tasting spicy blackcurrant leaves, and burying our faces in roses the color of ballerina slippers. But we’re late for afternoon tea with cherry jam and honeycakes. If Asya were alive, she would listen to us and say, “All this perfume talk is good, but you could use something to eat.”

P.S.

As many of you know, I have family and friends in Ukraine. I have been sharing updates and stories via my Instagram and Twitter. Please take a look and share. News inform us but they dehumanize places. To make Ukraine real for you, my stories are about my friends and my family, Ukrainian culture and art, its colors, and scents.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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71 Comments

  • Emily: We have family stuck in Kyiv right now but unfortunately I’ve never been. Thank you for transporting us to your grandmother’s home. Thank you for sharing her love for beauty with the world through your work. The spirit of Ukraine is indomitable. February 25, 2022 at 8:26am Reply

    • Perfumelover67: Dear Victoria, Thank you for sharing the beautiful memories of your family home and your scented journey in such a warm, inviting, loving, and wonderful place! It is very touching.
      Ukraine and all its citizens living in your country and around the world are in my heart, my thoughts, and my prayers. Hugs to you all. February 25, 2022 at 2:26pm Reply

      • Victoria: Thank you so much! I was trying to reply to all of your comments yesterday, but I was crying so much reading them that I decided to wait till I was in a better emotional state. 🙂 Those were happy tears, of course. I’m immensely grateful for your support. It’s been so essential and heartwarming. February 26, 2022 at 12:57pm Reply

  • Tourmaline: Dear Victoria,

    This was one of your most beautiful posts, but, for some reason, I never made time to respond to it when it was first printed. I’m glad of the opportunity to do so now

    First, though, let me just say that I am so sorry about what is happening in Ukraine; the Russian invasion is evil. I can’t imagine the pain, fear and anxiety you must be experiencing.

    Your grandmother’s home in Poltava sounds like a real haven. Your photos, which are always beautiful, are this time particularly exquisite. Reading again of the resin from the cherry trees, I am reminded that I must try “La Myrrhe” the next time I travel into the city.

    Your descriptions of the aromas of the house, garden and sarai made me think of the scents I treasure in my father’s home. For example, the dining room smells of its shiny redwood furniture, old photographs and dust; my old bedroom smells of the mountain-climbing equipment that my late brother stored there in recent years; the rumpus room, now overflowing with many of the books my father has read, smells of books, old comfy chairs and the carpet that was soaked with rainwater during flooding many years ago; and the downstairs laundry smells of Sunlight soap, washing powder and wet concrete.

    Some nice news is that, having read about “The Master and Margarita” numerous times on Bois de Jasmin, I have finally bought myself a Kindle version of it and have begun reading it. When I mentioned it to my father, expecting that he would have a copy and that he would have read it years ago, I was surprised to find that he hadn’t heard of either the book or its author. Given that he learned Russian many years ago and has read other Russian classics such as “Anna Karenina” and “War and Peace”, and also given that he is so well-read in general, I had assumed he would at least have heard of the author and the book.

    Well, Dad will now have the opportunity to read “The Master and Margarita”, because I ordered him a softback copy (he doesn’t use a computer) and it arrived today. I will give it to him when I see him for lunch on Sunday. I’ll have to hurry up and finish the book, though, because he will probably have read it in no time, despite the fact that, these days, he has to use a magnifying glass to read. I am looking forward to being able to discuss it with him!

    My very best wishes to you and your extended family at this difficult time.

    With kind regards,
    Tourmaline February 25, 2022 at 8:31am Reply

  • Megan: I have been thinking of you and praying for Ukraine. Thank you for reminding us that any country is much more than an outline on a map. February 25, 2022 at 8:32am Reply

    • Zazie: So true. You voiced my feelings exactly. Thinking of you, Victoria, and of all those who have loved ones involved in this present ugliness.
      May peace dawn upon everyone soon. March 2, 2022 at 9:21am Reply

  • Hamamelis: We are Ukraine.
    I hope people in Ukraine know that we think of them. Please let them know. You can’t walk in a shop here, or meet someone on the street, who isn’t totally abhorred by what one man (is he still human?) can cause in terms of needless human suffering. I hope your readers know they can donate to the Red Cross or other relief organisations that will aid the many refugees and when they can the people that are in Ukraine. If you are willing to organise a fundraiser (I know how much work it is!) I gladly donate rare perfumes from my collection. February 25, 2022 at 9:13am Reply

  • Mia: <3 February 25, 2022 at 9:19am Reply

  • Monika: Thank you, so much, for expressing this and sharing with us. Every word seems to sing with love and tenderness and longing for your homeland and family. All those things you knew are safe forever in your memory, noone can ever take that from you. I am hoping and praying every instant that peace will soon come back to Ukraine, and the perfumes of summer will be yours again. ❤️ February 25, 2022 at 9:21am Reply

  • Margie Lynn ARMOUR: I loved reading about your family home.I am praying for the people of Ukraine. February 25, 2022 at 9:41am Reply

  • Cynthia: I was so moved reading of your memories of the Ukraine and how intertwined scent was and is to recalling that prior life. I came to know a seamstress from the Ukraine and we would often chat about her memories and why she had to move away. This is a reminder how sacred ones homeland will always be. Love and grace. February 25, 2022 at 9:46am Reply

  • Costanza: Dear Victoria,
    I am very saddened from what is happening in Ukraine and reading this beatiful memory makes me very emotional.
    I love perferume and smell in general and all my (and yours) olfactive memories are truly a gift! Thanks for sharing with us this beautiful memories, a big hug!
    Costanza from Firenze, Italy February 25, 2022 at 9:49am Reply

  • Glenda: Dear Victoria,
    What beautiful memories you have described. One can almost sniff the fragrances you experienced while enjoying your surroundings. I have traveled to several cities within Russia, but now, feel as if I just visited your grandparents’ home in Ukraine. How lovely!
    In America, we are horrified to think of any more invasions and please know that prayers are with you and your countrymen, as well as the leaders.
    Our God is still in control! February 25, 2022 at 9:49am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: How lovely the house and garden are; also the interior, the small vases, the dried flowers, the cat. How charming the colours, especially the green to blue hues!
    I hope you will be able to visit again soon in the not too far future, and enjoy the treasures! February 25, 2022 at 9:50am Reply

  • Zuzanna Byczek: Greetings from Poland!
    I love your posts about Ukraine, those smells and plants remind me so much about polish countryside and nature. My father comes from a little village not so far from the ukrainian border (nearby Zamość) and I spent there all my summers when I was a child, so I find a lot of common elements in our memories.
    People in Poland are so ANGRY now, but we try to channel this helpless anger into positive actions, we demonstrate and donate, and first of all, we support Ukrainians with all our hearts. February 25, 2022 at 9:57am Reply

  • Nikos: It’s so true what you say. How everything feels dehumanized and how you put the story, the life back to the picture. The people we see suffering right now have a story they are not just “news”. And their story is being torn or cut short.
    I am so sorry for what is happening now in Ukraine. I am so sorry that we have let insane people rise to such uncontrollable power. No one should feel safe or spared. What is happening in Ukraine can easily happen to any country now.
    I urge everyone to help as one finds fit.
    May reason and humanity prevail. February 25, 2022 at 10:01am Reply

  • Sajini: Dear Victoria,
    Thank you so much for your thoughts and images of your family home in the Ukraine. So much beauty and culture. Honestly it made me cry this morning, knowing what is unfolding in the capitol and around the country right now. I hope your friends and family stay safe and that this very tumultuous time in history is very brief before coming down on the side of the Ukrainians. With much love. February 25, 2022 at 10:06am Reply

  • Maria: So glad you wrote because I wanted to be able to tell you how sorry I am about what your beloved country is enduring. From the first time I heard The Great Gate at Kiev I have loved Ukraine although I have never had the pleasure of being there. I have looked up ways to help and will send donations today. I wish with all my heart that I could do more. I grieve the suffering and i grieve that Ukraine is not getting the help its people deserve.

    Maria February 25, 2022 at 10:18am Reply

  • Constancesuze: This is so bittersweet to read right now and I ca feel the ache in my heart as you make me feel the places I’ve never been. Thank you for sharing again. <3 February 25, 2022 at 10:28am Reply

  • Trudy: Thank you for this beautiful post Victoria. Such lovely images and descriptions of a truly culturally rich and charming country. Thank you for sharing your heart. I follow you on Instagram and as such you have made this horrible invasion real and personal to me. Prayers for peace are with your family and all of the people in the Ukraine today and always. February 25, 2022 at 10:30am Reply

  • Deanna: This is such a beautiful evocative article.
    Heartbreaking to read right now.
    Certainly here in London I don’t know of anyone who could sleep last night after hearing the devastating news from Kiev.

    I think Victoria put a link on her Facebook page to be able to donate to Ukraine. February 25, 2022 at 10:44am Reply

  • Laurie Stern: This is incredibly beautiful to read your story. Thank you. My ancestors were from this area and my love and support us with you and your country. ❤️ February 25, 2022 at 11:10am Reply

  • Dina C.: Dear Victoria,
    Thank you for this beautiful, evocative, and heart-felt essay about your memories of Ukraine and your great-grandparents’ home. I loved having a tour! It made me very hungry to eat and eager to sniff all those smells. Please be assured that I am praying for your homeland every day. February 25, 2022 at 11:24am Reply

  • Maggiecat: Your story brought tears to my eyes. Praying for your beautiful country and the precious people in it. February 25, 2022 at 11:25am Reply

    • Melissa Rosen: I would love to donate my perfumes, too. February 25, 2022 at 11:13pm Reply

  • Kathy: Your beautiful memoir can be a prayer to join in with for Ukraine and for those caught in this appalling war of aggression. February 25, 2022 at 11:27am Reply

  • Tara C: Such a beautiful post, a hymn to your homeland and beloved family. I am praying every day for this shameful atrack to end and peace to be restored. February 25, 2022 at 1:05pm Reply

  • iodine: Dear Victoria, you’ve been in my thoughts since the beginning of all this. I hope your dear ones can stay safe. Un abbraccio, Chiara February 25, 2022 at 1:31pm Reply

  • Hayley: Love and prayers to you, your loved ones and Ukrania. Thank you for sharing it’s beauty with us. February 25, 2022 at 1:35pm Reply

  • Sharon: Thank you for this scent journey through your family’s little piece of Ukraine. It’s a good reminder of how a place can inspire human love and loyalty. I feel for those exiled from the places they love. February 25, 2022 at 1:39pm Reply

  • Gabriela: Victoria, my thoughts are with you in these difficult times. Writing is the only way to keep the memories alive and wish that beauty cannot be destroyed.
    Sending you a big hug. February 25, 2022 at 1:57pm Reply

  • Marilyn: Ah, Victoria, I just knew there would be a post from you today, abd I am so grateful! Thinking of you more than I can say — February 25, 2022 at 2:32pm Reply

  • Marsi: ❤️ The Ukrainians are great, courageous fighters who impress and inspire the world. ❤️ What a bunch of total badasses! ❤️ February 25, 2022 at 2:57pm Reply

  • Filomena: Your photos are absolutely beautiful and magical. I have been very saddened about what is happening in Ukraine. This should never happen to any country. February 25, 2022 at 3:10pm Reply

  • Kris: Thank you Victoria that you took us in a fragrant trip to your family home and your beautiful description of your childhood memories. Your story reminds me of my grandmother’s home at the countryside in Poland and all smells that were related with this place, now I can even smell all the cakes she prepared every Sunday, amazing. I pray for all the best for Ukraine in this tough time February 25, 2022 at 3:15pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: I can’t find any words to describe my feelings about what’s happening in the country of our ancestors. Thank you for this heartbreaking post, dear Victoria. My thoughts are with the people of Ukraine… February 25, 2022 at 3:50pm Reply

  • Leonie: Thank you for writing so beautifully about your family’s home. My love, support and solidarity to Ukraine. It’s beyond horrific to watch what is happening. February 25, 2022 at 4:38pm Reply

  • Nancy Chan: Dear Victoria, thank you for sharing this beautiful article about your home country. I really love the photos and your poetic descriptions of food, scent, buildings, people and the flora and fauna.

    I am sadden to hear of what is happening in Ukraine. It is barbaric and unjustified. I went to bed last night feeling a pang of guilt, wishing more could be done to help the Ukrainians. I hope peace will come to Ukraine.

    I really admire the courageous spirit of the Ukrainians, especially the older generation. February 25, 2022 at 5:46pm Reply

  • Bregje: What a beautiful article! Lack for words.
    I love your posts on instagram.
    You and the Ukranian people are in my heart and prayers.
    I feel so outraged about everything that’s happening right now. How our leaders are responding half heartedly etc but i will try to stay positive and hopeful. I hope you(and your friends/family)know that many of us care for you deeply. I only wish i could do more than that. February 25, 2022 at 5:47pm Reply

  • Michele O. brown: Dear Victoria, I pray everyday for the people of Ukraine, especially the children and the older citizens. Since finding your blog a yr ago, I have fallen in love with your beautiful country. I love your stories of your grandparents and your time spent with them. Takes me back to the times I spent with my beloved Grandmother on my Mother’s side. I am a child born during WW11 (‘43) and history buff of that time period. My Mother and I lived with her until my Father came home from the war. He was seriously wounded getting off Omaha beach during D-Day. This Russian invasion reminds me that the evil men do never stops. Only by God’s good grace. You and your people are being held up in prayer by my church because of others who have connection in Ukraine, also. Please tell us more of your homeland. Blessings to you and your family. February 25, 2022 at 7:01pm Reply

  • Wendy Mower: Thank you for reminding us of the specific beauty of a place in the Ukraine. Despite the evil that has taken over, by a former KGB tyrant, such loveliness & exquisite sensibility will never be destroyed- it will spring up again & again in the Ukraine, no matter the outcome. In a news interview, an Elder, when asked, what he was going to do, answered “go fishing.” Amazing spirit. February 25, 2022 at 9:00pm Reply

  • Old Herbaceous: Thank you for sharing the beauty of your homeland and family home, Victoria. Praying that your friends, family, and beloved places remain unharmed. February 25, 2022 at 10:20pm Reply

  • Julie F: Prayers for Ukraine and her courageous citizens. February 25, 2022 at 11:02pm Reply

  • Mridula: Thank you, Victoria for the stories from your childhood, for humanising a people who are in grave danger. What is happening is condemnable and we must not acquiesce. In solidarity with the people of Ukraine. February 25, 2022 at 11:28pm Reply

  • Aurora: Thank you very much for this tour of of your family home at such a difficult time for Ukraine. May all the memories contained in the house and garden sustain you. Is the lovely Young girl in the black and white photo your grandmother? February 25, 2022 at 11:56pm Reply

  • Silvermoon: Dear Victoria, thank you for the lovely and touching article about your home in Ukraine. The tour of the garden- it’s almost like I felt you going around greeting each tree. A place, where the garden shed with its fragrance of flowers and fresh greenness, could be a palace.

    I am extremely sad and upset to see what is happening in your country and to your family and friends. I can only condemn these acts of indiscriminate violence and express utter frustration with the helplessness of ordinary people (like us) to respond to the decisions made by governments and the international system.

    These past months have been extremely difficult and hectic for me, and I have not been able to read or comment here. However, I have been thinking of you these past weeks and came here this morning to write to you and all Ukrainians who post here. So, it was really wonderful to see your latest post. As you say, it’s so important to humanise the story.

    May you soon have the opportunity to visit your wonderful family home and greet your garden with its beautiful trees and flowers. February 26, 2022 at 4:41am Reply

    • Silvermoon: PS I noticed that you mention on Twitter the wonderfully brave and defiant Ukrainian woman who offered a Russian soldier some sunflower seeds and asked him to put them in his pocket so flowers would grow from them when he is dead. I read about it yesterday morning, and have to admit it brought tears to my eyes but also delighted my heart. There have been few moments to celebrate in these past days, but that was one. February 26, 2022 at 7:06am Reply

      • Victoria: Here is the link to the BBC website with the video: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-60525996
        I watched it several times. First of all, amazed by the defiance and bravery of this woman giving a total dressing down to a soldier armed to his teeth. Second, she sounds so much like my grandmother’s neighbor Aunt Zhenia–and I can imagine Zhenia doing something like. February 26, 2022 at 7:16am Reply

        • Silvermoon: Yes, I saw it on the BBC yesterday too. It was astonishingly brave, but embodied the spirit of defiance beautifully. Utterly full of admiration!

          Also, so glad to read that the Polish football team has refused to play Russia for the World Cup qualifier later in March (preferring to yield its place). Frankly, all European teams should refuse to do so. February 26, 2022 at 7:28am Reply

        • Nancy Chan: I had to read that article twice! Brave. I also watched on the BBC news what the woman said to the Russian soldier. February 26, 2022 at 4:21pm Reply

  • Ilio: Dear Victoria,
    Thank you for this beautiful post! I have been enjoying your blog as a background lurker for years but had to comment this.

    My heart goes out to Ukraine and other countries and people who are living under terror and fear. I hope that the world, including Russians many of whom oppose this war would make this stop.

    My country was similarly invaded by CCCP in 1939 and against all odds we were able to fight back and retain our independence. I hope Ukraine will be able to do the same.

    I have donated for humanitarian help organisations and hope others would do the same. Happy to participate in perfume fundraiser too! February 26, 2022 at 7:08am Reply

    • Silvermoon: Hello Ilio, such thoughtful words. You are very correct to write that there are many many Russians who are opposed to this war with a country they see as their neighbour and even part of their family. It is all very sad and upsetting. February 26, 2022 at 7:35am Reply

  • Frances: I cannot believe I miss, at the time, this beautiful soulful post. This is a first time read for me. Again I can vividly picture myself walking through the garden and through the house, the beautiful pictures adding to the immersive quality of the text. It is so touching to hear about your family, to meet your great grantmother and great grantfather through your words. Thank you for your generosity and your authenticity, thank you for inviting us to this scented tour intertwined with memories.

    Of course, today tragic situation makes this post even more heart touching. I compleately agree with you: news dehumanize places, especially nowdays with all the tv news channels. People are overwhelmed by the amount of informations they absorb and, alas, it becomes too easy to forget about the real people and the real places and the real feelings behind the headlines. And yes, the real stories. Stories we tell are the beating heart of our humanity, we should never take them for granted and we should always share them to keep them alive.

    I am so very sorry for you, your family, your friends and all the people affected by this war.

    Ps: I didn’t hear about the ukrainian women giving the sunflower seeds to the russian soldier. That’s an act of poetic bravery and defiance out of a novel, a poem or a play. It is true that reality often exceed fiction in the most amazing way. February 26, 2022 at 9:56am Reply

  • Jenny: I have been a longtime reader and admirer of your blog but have never commented until now. I’m finding the actions of the Ukrainian people to defend themselves, their land and their fellow countrymen so profoundly moving right now, and I deeply wish they were not going through this. I am headed to a peace rally in Chicago tomorrow to show support for our large Ukrainian population as well as the brave people fighting on the ground there. Thank you for sharing these beautiful and evocative words and pictures of your homeland, we are all thinking of Ukraine right now. 💛💙 February 26, 2022 at 2:40pm Reply

  • Lucy Raubertas: Your photos and detailed descriptions are transporting. What a beautiful house and garden! So good of you to share these images and memories at this horrifically difficult time. The strength of your family shines through and gives hope that this beautiful way of life in nature and charm and meaning will prevail despite all the senseless violence and greed attacking it now. This is the essential beauty of Ukraine that must prevail. February 26, 2022 at 3:04pm Reply

  • KatieAnn: Oh, Victoria, ever since coming across your site and your Instagram page, I have been absolutely mesmerized by the beauty of your photos from Ukraine. I wanted to see more of this magical place that you shared in colorful vignettes accompanied by poetic descriptions.
    I am sad that it is under circumstances such as these that I finally get to see more. But I am ever so grateful that you are sharing these stories of your home, family, and friends. Yes, there is so much sadness felt, but also love and strength. So much love and strength.
    I am praying for you and all those suffering right now. I am praying for the protection of the innocent and the preservation of beauty and truth.
    So many people are watching, praying, and reaching out. Good will ultimately prevail. February 26, 2022 at 5:14pm Reply

  • Nina: Thank for a beautiful story about your heritage! My heart goes to the people of Ukraine: I hope you know and feel that the whole of Europe is standing with you! I am heartbroken with the news of this totally unprovoked, cruel Russian attack.🇺🇦💙💛 February 27, 2022 at 10:47am Reply

  • Iolanda: Thank you for sharing those memories, I would like to do the same with the smells and places I’ve experienced in my life. I send you and all the Ukrainians my love and prayers. I look forward to visit Ukraine, hope soon. 💛💙 February 27, 2022 at 10:51am Reply

  • Jeanne: Dear Victoria,
    I was crying as I looked at your gorgeous photographs.
    All my hopes and prayers go to you, your family and friends, and your beautiful Ukraine. February 27, 2022 at 11:02am Reply

  • solanace: Dear Victoria, this is so beautiful.
    Hope your family is safe.
    My heart is with you. February 27, 2022 at 11:20am Reply

  • Sarah: Hi Victoria, I’ve been worrying about Ukraine for weeks and I can’t believe what’s actually happening now. I’m so sorry and am sending you lots of love and hope. Thank you for posting your beautiful stories and pictures–I can imagine myself there! I hope to visit one day. February 27, 2022 at 7:16pm Reply

  • Maria: I am so sorry for this horror you are living through. That all of us are living through. Since the war in Iraq began when the US invaded an innocent country I have not been so horrified, and sad. I am sad too because as a loud antiwar activist since the Iraq war, I have been discussing this issue for years and the importance of de-escelation tension over there.
    I was afraid this would happen, but I hoped it never would. I hope that we can *all* lay down our weapons and as a world work for peace. The photos of your home are gorgeous. It breaks my heart that your beautiul country is in the middle of a horrible war. These photos are gorgeous. What a beautiful home you grew up in. Thank you for sharing. My prayers are for the safety of your family February 27, 2022 at 10:47pm Reply

  • Hilde: Dear Victoria,

    The way you are telling your story so lively almost brought me in tears.

    Every time when you wrote an article on Bois de Jasmin about your family roots in Ukrain, I was wondering how you must feel having been teared away from your homeland, family and friends. Especially in the actual situation it must be heartbreaking for you. I wish you very much courage and the best to your relatives and friends in Ukrain. February 28, 2022 at 5:46am Reply

  • Farista: Dear Victoria Thank you for your post…I enjoyed it immensely as I do most all of your posts. I pray for the well being of all Ukrainians and living beings on our planet and hope that you have comfort and good news of your family and loved ones. What I have learned from your writings is to cultivate an appreciation of Essences..of fragrances, beauty, poetry, literature – all that make life so wonderful and rich. Many years ago I was very ill, debilitated in mind and body and I happened upon your blogs. Your writings and beautiful pictures, and fragrances helped heal me to no end! They brought me back to my essence.– I hope in this dark and troubling time that all the essences in life come to support and comfort you. Thank you and many blessings upon you. and all you love. With much gratitude and Kindest regards February 28, 2022 at 9:51am Reply

  • limegreen: Dearest Victoria,
    My thoughts are with you and yours. It has been heartbreaking. Thank you for this beautiful and scent-filled memory. February 28, 2022 at 10:27am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I hope that your friends and family are safe, and that one day you can go back to your beloved country in better times. February 28, 2022 at 3:00pm Reply

  • yumeyorimo: I’ve watched the events in Ukraine with increasing outrage and heartache. I can’t imagine the distress you must be feeling as someone who has loved ones and a history there. What we can do as individuals seems so little, but we are many drops and I hope that together, by doing what we can in the form of aid or protest, we will make up an ocean. February 28, 2022 at 4:29pm Reply

  • Gențiana Crăciun: Dear Victoria,
    Touching, colourful, scentful post… In the present context, really heartbreaking.
    I am with all my soul with the Ukrainian people, together with many, many of Romanian fellows. Trying to help.
    These things HAD NOT TO HAPPEN IN THE 21 TH CENTURY !!!!!! February 28, 2022 at 10:35pm Reply

  • john: I too am sorry to be arriving at this post late. What a heartbreaking but also heart-fixing reminiscence this is, to think of lost time and found sensations occupying the same space. Your connections with the perfumes we scent ourselves with strikes me as a way to carry associations out with us into the world. Who doesn’t long to collect and hold such things? And your tenderly articulated knowledge helps you read and so make this possible. This piece, posted at such a terrible time speaks to me to the truth that beauty is not frivolity — it is survival. March 1, 2022 at 1:07pm Reply

  • Sherry(12prettythings): Victoria, you have such a gift of expressing a place in words with such beauty and dignity. May you gain strength from your roots everyday. I am putting Ukraine on my top see places I’d like to see one day. Stay strong. March 2, 2022 at 7:58am Reply

  • Klaas: Dear Victoria, what a wonderful, heartfelt and poetic post!

    I am so incredibly sorry for what is happening. The world is being hijacked by maffia, but I am absolutely sure that, in the end, love, beauty and humanity will prevail. Be strong and have faith 💙💛 March 8, 2022 at 6:02am Reply

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  • OperaFan in Aizuri-e or Japanese Blue Pictures: I have not given this process much thought until recently. How the beauty of nature is reflected/ interpreted in the prints themselves is already a marvel to behold; the fact… August 8, 2022 at 4:17pm

  • Alityke in Aizuri-e or Japanese Blue Pictures: Victoria, the market place in that first print put me in mind of L.S. Lowry’s “matchstick men”. The way the mere suggestion of people & animals going about their business… August 8, 2022 at 2:59pm

  • Aurora in Aizuri-e or Japanese Blue Pictures: Thank you for sharing Victoria, those blue prints have a dreamy and timeless quality. August 8, 2022 at 2:31pm

  • Ashley in Frederic Malle Carnal Flower Perfume Giveaway: 1. Mugler Angel is forever tied to the woman who I think of as the first lover of consequence in my life. She would pour it on and turn heads… August 8, 2022 at 1:27pm

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