Dec 21, 2010 8:08 PM
by Carrie Meredith
When my cat Maggie (aka Miss Crabtree) was diagnosed with a cancerous nasal tumor this past February, we weren't sure how long she had to live. Due to the nature and placement of the tumor, chemotherapy and the anesthesia required for radiation treatments were not going to be feasible (plus, all the going back and forth would have been upsetting to her). So, we had to adopt a "wait and see" attitude. Over the months, I had grown to become her nurse extraordinaire, giving her multiple pain medicine injections daily. At the time, I worked in an animal hospital and had everything I needed to give her the palliative care she deserved. I fussed over her every moment I could, and we both loved it.
We had been best friends for the 13 and a half years of her existence. She had been with me through many significant phases of my life, and had moved residences with me countless times. She had a fiery, demanding personality, but was very adaptable and easy at the same time. She and I were inseparable, and had a love between us that I never dreamed possible between an animal and a person. When I looked into her eyes, I saw myself. I often wondered if she viewed me as an extension of herself in the same way.
After I found out she was sick, my one wish was that she could be with me for one more Christmas. She loved lounging and sleeping beneath the Christmas tree so much, and she would revel in all the wrapping paper and ribbons, guarding the presents and surveying the festive land like the queen lioness she was. However, Maggie's tumor steadily worsened and so did her overall well-being, until I decided that I could no longer manage her pain with medications well enough. I had to let her go. That day in late August, just before my birthday, I suppose that part of me went with her and I don't expect to see it back again.
I was thinking about what scents I associate most with the joy that she brought into my life, and what I came up with is not surprisingly associated with food. Maggie was instantly obsessed with anything I was eating, and that especially applied when it came to desserts. Her favorite was the cream from tiramisu, and of course, vanilla ice cream. I found out while taking a continuing education course on animal nutrition that cats cannot taste sweetness. That blew me away. I wondered, what was it about desserts, ice cream, even the wrapper from a bran muffin, that made them so appealing to her? It wasn't sweetness, that I knew, then how about dairy? That must be it. She was a dairy queen.
So in honor of Maggie, I will wear Penhaligon's Amaranthine tonight. With notes of condensed milk, vanilla, cardamom and tonka bean (evident in the drydown), I think I could have made her quite a nice dessert with those ingredients. Amaranthine initially brings forth green tea, rose and Egyptian jasmine along with other floral notes, musk and sandalwood, and comes across to me as a complex scent (the most complex of any from Penhaligon's I've tried).
It wears strong and long, and speaks of lightness and depth all at once. The potent florals, bright green tea and coriander languish for some time, but the drydown is completely different. It moves stealthily, it's smooth, delicious, and all of those wonderful gourmand notes get to come out to play. And they do, joyfully.
[photo of Maggie and the brownie, 2004]