The day I met a marvellous human.
Because of how this whole situation unravelled, I will start this article out with a story. This is a story about how the Universe arranged for great things to happen and very like-minded people to meet.
A week ago I found myself in a wild and wonderful land down-under, where birds laugh at you morning & afternoon, while the atmosphere has a crisp degree of sharpness. There is a unique kind of clarity in the visual landscape of Australia. It must be the hole in the ozone layer, or maybe eucalyptus trees refracting light in just a way so that it feels like the ‘sharpen’ filter is turned up high in your eyeballs. The Universe tapped on my shoulder one day and brought me together with a friendly, W’Menswear-embracing family called The Standard Store (a place that you should visit if you find yourself in Sydney for an instant). It was shortly decided by them that I would meet another lovely little family who make handsome bikes and exquisite candles amongst other good things, and being that girl who does what she’s told (thanks to a healthy ‘Asian mum’ upbringing), I followed my nose to a warehouse with a broad-chested front for a bicycle workshop, and lush backside that gracefully nested an atelier for smells, feelings, memories, and fire. This is Maison Balzac.
I met the cheerful family (mama bear, papa bear, and baby bear) during an afternoon play session, and was whisked around the industrial, yet very homely workspace, to the back garden where lots of magic happens. Mama bear, aka Elise, started talking about good things like experiencing the world through our senses. This quickly rhizomed to cooking, our favourite artworks, smells, childhood memories, hunting, foraging, more food, fishing, and… how to skin a flathead. If there were a ‘funnest life possible’ awards ceremony, then Elise and her bear clan would be in nomination for the final prize (which is always the best one right?)
They live out of town, in a church, on a river, with a garden, and awesome neighbours who fish and grow oysters. To live the life of an artisan maker, you have to be a Romantic at heart. There are infinite ways to exist on this planet, but to make things using such primal things like fire and smell, is to live a poetic life that embraces much goodness. It is a life of existence through sensory experience, a kind of touchy, feel-y life that jumps between past and present through things like smell, smoke, and colour. What also make Maison Balzac candles so special is that they are based on experiences, memories, and places. Her upbringing in the South of France, waiting for langoustines to emerge from rock pools, plucking feathers off wild birds for dinner, exploring the woods, the humidity of great old churches that spot the landscape of France, and the balmy summer sun that drenches the coastline in golden light. Elise gave me some candles and smells to try, and again the Universe called me, only this time it came in the form of a big hug. I was transported to a time, place, and person with this one fragrance. It was the exact smell of a friend, Lyn, not her perfume, but it captured her in a way that words can only attempt to describe. I was then presented with the candle’s partner, and again my mind was taken to a person, and a food. It was Lyn’s partner Tony and his crazy-delicious baking, and together the two candles made up a powerful pair of like-minded people who also embrace goodness in it’s weirdly great forms. (Their funnest life possible file follows shortly).
A true lesson in the boundless power of our senses as time portals. It’s why I’m in love with the Universe.
Q/ Describe WHAT YOU DO as if you were talking to a five-year-old.
* je fais des bougies qui font plaisir avec gens
* I make candles that make people happy.
Q/ Tell us how you slipped into SMELLS ‘N FIRE
* par nostalgie pour mon enfance en Mediterranee!
* out of nostalgia for my childhood in south of France!
Q/ What did you have for BREAKFAST this morning / What do you wish you had for BREAKFAST this morning?
* des calins de loulou, un jus d’oranges ramassees dans notre jardinet des crepes au citron. J’aurais aime des calin au citron, un jus de loulou et un jardin ramasse par une orange.
* we had cuddles from loulou, orange juice from fruits picked in the garden, and crepes with lemon juice. I wish we had lemon cuddles, a loulou’s juice and a garden picked by an orange.
Q/ What does the word GOODNESS mean to you?
[she places an asparagus picked from her garden onto the page.]
Q/ Draw us a picture of BALZAC STYLE.
[She drew a stick figure of herself wearing the outfit I shot her in, holding a candle in one hand and what looks to me like a chonical flask of smells in the other. Above is the caption ‘la bougie qui a du style’.]
Q/ What is a typical SUNDAY in your world?
* a la campagne, dans notre maison (une eglise!), a jardinier, cuisinier, jouer et dormir.
* in our country home (a renovated church), gardening, cooking, playing & sleeping.
Q/ What’s always in your POCKET?
[She placed a 5 cent coin in the answer space]
Q/ What was the last thing you GOOGLED?
Q/ Who’s IG account distracts you MUCHLY?