This fall has been unusually sunny and dry. We have a bumper crop of ripe tomatoes, unusual in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve been giving them away by the grocery bag full. Usually we bring the tomatoes in green when the rain starts and they slowly ripen by Thanksgiving. The indoor ripening process is scary because it means that most of the “ripe” tomatoes in the supermarket could be months off the vine. The other crop that’s unusual has been the second fig crop, which normally doesn’t make it, but this year has been fat, sweet, and juicy.
There are lots of perfumes based on green fig leaves, and some based on the fruit. They’re all good. However, yesterday an online friend wrote me asking if I’d ever smelled dried fig leaves, crushed to release their fragrance. I had not, but rushed out to the back yard to retrieve a few crisp, fallen leaves from under the brown turkey fig tree. Dried leaves were scarce because the tree’s leaves are all still green and figs of all sizes and stages are still growing, taking advantage of the fall sun. When I crushed the dry leaves in my hand, I was amazed to find that they released a strong, sweet fragrance full of coumarin, coconut, and sunny, dry, dusty things. It’s a perfume in and of itself, different from fig fruit, and different from green fig leaves. It could stand alone as a perfume.
When the fig trees drop enough leaves, I’m going to try tincturing them and see what comes out of the process. I’m also thinking about how to synthesize the smell of dried fig leaves. That’s what I love about tinkering with plants and fragrances. There’s always another project!