Thursday, 27 September 2018

L'Heure Bleue--the Blue Hour

L'Heure Bleue

The light changes in a moment. Usually the sky turns lavender with an eerie glow. Early October in the Quartier St Honore with the afterglow of the sunset lingering over the Tuileries brings this light. Walking in the Place du Marche, the market closing, the cafe terraces crowded and lit with candles, one breathes the warmth of Indian Summer. Women in summer clothes with light wraps on their shoulders; waiters ready to light the terrace heaters as aperetifs are served. Yet that light glimmers from a translucent sky that hints of mysteries beyond human ken: a moment seen as if through a crystal.
L'Heure Bleue by Guerlain formulated by Jaques Guerlain in 1012 is a famous scent that hints at forces beyond reality. That moment which tells us we are not in control. This breathtaking moment that can begin a love affair or turn order into calamity, peace into war:
It hints at time suspended, even as that lilac sky is suspended above the Paris  rooftops.
Jaques Guerlain said that one day l'heure bleue brought him a premonition of an imminent catastrophe which was to be World War I. L'Heure Bleue, the scent which he created symbolizes the Belle Epocque : as he recalled that moment where the leisured strolled between afternoon and evening at the hour when dusk after a warm afternoon brings this atmospheric light.
In the present day, that light continues in the moment between sunset and night. Before the lights come on in the streets and apartments, the sky glows as if lit through a pale amethyst.
I sit outside in my English garden, sipping a cocktail. I have never seen L'heure blue here until now. I know it from Paris where that moment of early evening after sunset in early October inspires one with mystical alertness.  Is it the hot summer or the imminence of great changes, portending some elusive future? Something is suspended, waiting: a moment that portends a new world. Mingled scents of wood smoke, fallen leaves, lingering roses reassure one that there is continuity or a sort. Stars and bats appear from opal fragments of light caught among dark branches. L'heure bleue is gone, leaving only faint disquiet for what may come.