Evening in Paris

I always plan to sleep in on Monday mornings. I almost never do. When I manage it, I immediately resent the time wasted, wanting to snatch it back, longing for the lost hours that mean I missed the beauty of morning. Especially now, in the waning summer, when the air is cool before heating, when the birds are busy building the last nest, feeding the last clutch of chicks before flying south. By mid October they’ll be off. The humming birds will drain the liquid sugar, stoking for the trip to Mexico where they’ll winter over until next May.

This morning the sun set about warming the fog away, the steam rising from the little pond that currently hosts a mother hawk and her juvenile as he learns to pick gnats off the surface. I know when he’s successful because he spirals the air with his noisy joy. He is why I am wide awake at 7, when I had planned to rise at 10. Mama speaks in my head to say we have lots of time to sleep when we’re dead. Grass rarely grew beneath her feet.

A friend sent an email chock full of pictures of things we never see any more, photos of things past that were constants in my daily life. And likely in yours. One was of a bottle of Evening in Paris, the only scent Mama wore. A long while ago, while browsing in a small antiques store I spied the blue bottle with the silver label sitting next to a tired load of memorabilia. It had never been opened. Knowing I would purchase it, I unscrewed the lid and without  warning, Mama filled the room with her presence held in the released scent. For one brief moment she was alive and with me, carried on the perfume of my past. Evening in Paris always meant Mama. It announced her presence when she came to the orphanage to visit her kids, or took us away for the day, and it lingered when she left us forlorn and full of sorrow.

The bottle sits on my dresser, and once in a while I open it, sniff its ever less intense fragrance, as it slowly dissipates, going the way of Mama. I see it in my mind’s eye, sitting on her vanity table, no no don’t touch, forbidden to me as a child. I see myself sitting on her lap, the cloud of perfume a comfort. I call her to me now with the simple opening of the small blue bottle. I don’t dab it on my wrist. My body chemistry is different than hers and the perfume is wasted in this effort to carry her with me all day. It must be enough to sniff the bottle.


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