‘Quick, said the bird,’ thoughts on Tauer’s Rêverie au Jardin

Andy Tauer’s Rêverie au Jardin gets very mixed reviews. Some people love it. Some get an unpleasant synthetic note from it. Others find it hard to identify the lavender that is RaJ’s main claim to attention. Still others just find the fragrance too thin.

I thought that too at first, sampling it initially alongside Tauer’s much stronger and more assertive fragrances. ‘Meh?’ I thought.

Then I noticed that Dee likes RaJ very much, so I went back to it. I’d bought a second Tauer set by then, and having ten samples gave me a chance to really explore the line. I knew by then that these fragrances are not going to reveal themselves instantly.

It’s not like spritzing your way merrily around the fragrance floor at your nearest department store. As with the work of many artisan perfumers, you have to give Andy Tauer time.

So I let myself be still with RaJ and finally, like some disturbance in the bushes on a calm day, I realised that something was stirring. Was it just the breeze, perhaps, or a bird pattering somewhere, looking for its mate? No, it was more than that. In my head I could hear some lines of poetry by T.S. Eliot, writing about the garden at an English country house, called Burnt Norton, which he used to visit in the 1930s. ‘Burnt Norton’ became the first poem in a cycle known later as The Four Quartets.

‘Burnt Norton’ explores the nature of time, of the past and the present, movement, life and death. ‘Time present and time past / Are both perhaps present in time future … ‘ are the famous opening lines. The act of imagining the choices we do not make in life, the things ‘that might have been’, is evoked by the idea of walking down a passage, though a door, and into a rose garden.

Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?
Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,
Round the corner. Through the first gate … ‘

This is the garden Tauer has created for me. It is tranquil. The sun is warm and the atmosphere is dry, too dry for me to smell any fragrant note distinctly for very long, although for me the lavender is there.*

In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air,
And the bird called, in response to the
The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery … ‘

RaJ is assuredly a garden fragrance but there are no wet leaves, crushed stems or damp earth. In some ways it is more like the dry gardens and bushland I know in Australia, and maybe because of that olfactory background of my own, I am more attracted to Tauer’s sharp, dry fragrances than his juicier florals, like Zeta or Carillon pour un Ange.

So we moved …
To look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry the concrete, brown edged,
And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight … ‘

Rêverie au Jardin is elusive. On my skin it is gentle and lasts only four or five hours. On clothes and it lingers for days, and catches me by surprise as I put on a jumper or jacket. Is it summer after all? I glance around. Surely someone has left the window open on to a sunny garden?

Rêverie au Jardin does not submit to analysis willingly. Likewise, T.S. Eliot’s work is challenging – or maybe not. The key is not to try an ‘understand’ Eliot’s poems at the start. You just read them and enjoy the bits you like – the rhythms or the images that speak to you – and let the rest shimmer at the back of your mind. Give yourself time, meander, and, as in a garden, allow your attention to wander.

Anyway, later I won a draw on Andy Tauer’s website (hurrah! many thanks Andy). I now have samples all thirteen fragrances currently on the market (three more will be added soon). I included a second sample of RaJ so that I can really live with it and apply it generously, which I think it needs.(The other duplicate I chose was Une Rose Chyprée.)

Why do I like RaJ? I like its dreamy airiness. I like its elusiveness and restraint. I like the green lavender, sweetened a little. Other than that, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.

If I buy a full bottle of RaJ I doubt will ever really ‘own’ the fragrance. A work of art is not something you ever really own. It remains ‘a perpetual possibility’, as Eliot might put it. I like that.

*For info, the notes are: lavender, galbanum, fir balm, bergamot, musky frankincense, orris root, rose, sandalwood, cedar, vanilla and ambergris.

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27 thoughts on “‘Quick, said the bird,’ thoughts on Tauer’s Rêverie au Jardin

  1. Really evocative review, annemarie. Enjoyed the poem very much. How nice RaJ has created that garden for you. You are so right about not trying too hard to understand some of the more “difficult” poems and just let them wash over you instead. I can see how the same could apply to Andy’s wonderful and diverse creations. I was lucky enough to win samples of the Pentachords recently and I wonder what you would make of the forest green of Verdant.

    1. Thanks Tara. How wonderful to get an early sniff of the Pentachords! I have made a special note to try Verdant and White, in particular.

  2. Wonderful review. This isn’t one I have had the opportunity to smell, so thanks for putting it on my radar.

  3. SOTD: Reverie au Jardin!!! Inspired, of course, by this review.

    I know that it shouldn’t matter, but I remember when you first tested this fragrance, you were not immediately smitten with it, and it made me a little sad. Need I say how delighted I am that it’s won you over??

    I love RaJ, and I’m so happy that it’s found another fan! 🙂

    1. Lovely! Does it work well in your warm weather? I’m hoping it will in mine, not that it is a failure in the winter. Yes, it’s sad when your scent buddy does not like what you like. But it a remark of yours that sent me back to RaJ, dee, so all is good.

      Thanks for finding that lovely bir image, by the way. There is something about RaJ that puts me in mind of little birds like this. Not that RaJ is a cheeky, flittery sort if scent. But there is something about the way it catches me by surprise with a quick flash of its beauty that reminds me of little bush birds.

      1. Re: the little bird
        RaJ has, despite it’s strength (I think of ladies in menswear!), a kind of beauty that inspires tenderness, much the way I feel when I watch the sparrows in my yard. They are fierce little survivors, but they have hollow bones, after all 🙂

        Personally, I love it year round. It is dense in the heat, but I like that aspect; today I must have used at least four spritzes, which is quite a lot of this potent stuff! As I said before, there’s a tender quality that seems to keep it within appropriate levels (no one at work has complained 😉 )

        Scent buddies! That’s us 🙂 I won an unopened vintage Miss Dior EDT on eBay (bad dee, bad, bad!)… I can’t wait to tell you all about it when it arrives! I’ve never smelled Miss Dior, but you haven’t led me astray yet…

        1. I thought I had satisfied my Miss Dior desires with some recent purchases, but now I am so envious of you MD. Hope you like it. I’m beginning to think that its dryness, which has always attracted me to it, is a sign of a large part of my perfume taste over all/

          I’m so glad and relieved to hear that you are spritzing a lot of RaJ. One of the things that confused me about it initially was that it seemed so mild compared to the other Tauers. I thought I was just not smelling it properly. Now I know I was probably not applying enough. (Four spritzes of Marocain would make me keel over and die!)

          Strength and tenderness – yes! That is it exactly. You are a genius! (Funny, we don’t get sparrows in my city much.)

          1. Ah… well, regarding Miss Dior, I’m glad that you haven’t yet satisfied your craving, because I bought it intending to share with you!! I’m going to take a couple small decants, and send the rest along 🙂

            One spritz of RaJ actually lasts all day on me, and I can enjoy it at that level… however I like to do everything over the top!

  4. Such a beautiful review, Annemarie! I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say, especially that you have to give a Tauer time, it’ll win you over eventually.
    Beautiful poem as well!

    1. Thanks Olfactoria. It was a tricky one to write – I was not sure if people would want to come with me on the poetry thing.

      I know that Incense Rosé is one of your favourites. I just re-read your wonderful review of it, describing the single rose glowing in the green forest. For me there is something slightly bitter in the opening of IR that I don’t care for, but I love it as the fragrance warms over the course of an hour or so. But you know? I spritzed IR a few weeks ago one afternoon just before I dropped my daughter off to play with her friend, and as usual was not quite enjoying that opening phase. But my daughter’s friend’s mother exclaimed with delight when she smelled the perfume I was wearing. So I thought, hmmm … keep trying, testing, thinking …

  5. I have yet to read Four Quartets, mostly because I can’t find it in my local library. I may have to just go hit Amazon for a used copy. I love your description of letting Eliot’s words shimmer in the back of your mind – yes, they do that, don’t they!

    I did not care for RaJ, but then I don’t generally like lavender, even in bloom. I don’t think I’m going to try to force it; there are just soooo many other things to try.

    1. Thanks Mals. If you don’t like lavender, that’s a WHOOOLE big fragrance category you can cross off your list – a good thing. (People were talking on NST the other day about how they find ways to cope with the tidal wave of new releases.)

      You can Google ‘Burnt Norton’ or ‘Four Quartets’ (and any of the other poems too – Wasteland, Prufrock … ) and get the whole text for a bit of a look to see you like the poetry. I’m sure you can pick up a hard copy of the collected poems very cheaply online. It’s only a relatively slim volume. Mine is a much thumbed but carefully cherished copy from the 1980s when I studied Eliot at university.

  6. I’m a huge admirer of T.S. Eliot’s poetry, so of course your review sent me back again to re-read the four quartets. Every time I read poems like these it’s in a slightly different context, so I get something more and/or different out of them. Thank you for reminding me about them!

    1. Thanks Ellen. That’s the wonderful thing about poetry, or any art form. The best works reveal their significance and meaning to you often over time, the course of a lifetime perhaps.

      (I am so looking forward to getting out my bottle of your MidSummer Day’s Dream. I’ve told myself that I must wait until the warm weather comes, and NOT before. But a tree in my street is in blossom, so spring is on the way. I love that brave little tree. It bursts into blossom at this time of year even tho’ we are still having sub-zero nights.)

  7. Annemarie, I’m a fellow RaJ lover and I love the wistful nature of your lovely post, as it really expresses the quiet, soulful quality of the perfume.

    Over time I have found that the Tauer fragrances I have come to appreciate most are the quieter ones. I rather wish now that I had purchased Reverie au Jardin or Incense Extreme instead of the one I did purchase (Lonestar Memories). I’m not sure why that is, considering that I wear some rather thick perfumes, but at any rate…yeah, that RaJ is contemplative and lovely, and your post really complements its nature.

    1. Many thanks Suzanne, I appreciate your words. Yes, the birch tar in Lonestar Memories can be a bit of a challenge, to me at least, although I do wear it. For me, the key thing in deciding on a FB purchase these days is how much I will actually wear of the fragrance. I can see myself reaching for RaJ time after time, more than the Tauer fragrances I like even more, like Marocain and Une Rose Chypree. Marocain I think I could only wear in the winter, and URC is a ‘dress up’ fragrance for me.

  8. Reverie was the first Tauer I experienced and I fell in love with it. I’m glad you have learnt to love it..I love how cool yet warm it is at the same time..
    Recently when i sampled OJ woman, I felt that there was something very familiar about its greeness and I thought the familiarity was because the green smelt like pesto to me- however now I realize that it smelt familiar because the greeness reminded me of lavender absolute- with a similar treatment of it as in RaJ. I don’t have any RaJ with me to do a side by side comparison- but am I crazy- does anybody get that?

    1. Thanks, Lavanya, sorry, I don’t know OJ Woman. You are right about RaJ being cool and warm at the same time. I love perfumes that can encompass apparent contradictions like that. (Love the smell of pesto too!.)

  9. annemarie, it’s a beautiful review. Thank you.

    “What might have been is an abstraction
    Remaining a perpetual possibility
    Only in a world of speculation.”

    I haven’t tried this perfume yet but now I’ll put it on my list (Carillon pour un Ange didn’t work for me either so I might be on the right track).

    1. Beautiful lines, aren’t they?

      Carillon seemed a near scrubber for me, but I’ll keep giving it a go. It’s too soon for me to write ANY of them off yet!

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