What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Monday, February 2, 2015


I’m sure everyone in the US is familiar with the superstition that if the groundhog can see his shadow on the second day of February, there will be 6 more weeks of winter. In fact, one of the rituals in this country is to celebrate “Groundhog Day” by hauling out an official groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, and holding him up for inspection and a photo opportunity. If the sun shines during this exercise, it is assumed that winter will not be over for a while.

This predictive strategy may work for the northeastern US, but it doesn’t apply on the West Coast where the closest thing to a groundhog is the mountain beaver, Aplodontia rufa.  This mole-like creature only comes out at night, so the probability of it ever seeing its shadow is practically zero.

Our reliable predictor of spring is the crocuses, which under average conditions always bloom by Valentine’s Day. This year I saw the first blooms the third week of January, a little earlier than usual. They seem to know when it’s time to come up and when it’s time to bloom, because the frogs have been croaking and the birds singing ever since the crocuses started to bud. Primroses and cyclamens don’t count because they bloom all winter long.

As much of the rest of the US freezes in a snowdrift, the tomato, pepper and okra seed starts are growing in the greenhouse, the lettuce is coming up in the outdoor garden and I’m looking forward to spring!

[Punxsutawney Phil photo from the Washington Post. Mountain beaver photo from Wikimedia. Crocus and primrose photos are mine, taken a couple of weeks ago.]


  1. Kinda same here in Karaj. But, sadly we didn't have even a single proper snow this winter! White daffodils bloomed in our garden last week and predicted an early spring.
    I'm afraid it's related to global warming.

    1. Farbod, We didn't have any snow here, either, but many years we don't. In any case, I'm sure the early spring is related to global warming.

  2. Hi Ellen,
    It feels and smells like spring here today! BTW at one time we had mountain beavers living in the lavender bed on the east side of the house. At first I noticed a relatively large burro (about 6 inches in diameter), a pile of leaves and flowers and then one day noticed an unusual musky odor. I had no idea what was living there until I saw the remains of what appeared to be a young mountain beaver not far from the burrow. I believe there were several in the lavender patch but now they seemed to have moved away. They probably got tired of all the construction nearby.

  3. Gail, all of our mountain beaver holes are down in the ravine so I don't see them much, but now I have to go smell them! Mountain beaver musk as perfume!