First it’s the fragrance of a phantom lady. She lingers a moment then vanishes, her scent, like her colorful scarf, caught by the wind, carried upwards to the green canopy of an elm tree. She tempts me to remember, to feel her warm embrace. Suddenly I’m overcome by her presence and I’m a child chasing her perfume to the source, a grove of honeysuckle in the pasture behind the red barn.
Summer is on her way. Soon there will be no more school buses, math problems, or reading assignments. My failing grade in handwriting will only be a memory like the great aunts, uncles, cousins whose graves I’ll help my mom and my aunt decorate on memorial day. In the garden I inspect the peony bushes, above their red leaves, ants crawl over a bud enticing it to bloom. I remember from last year, this one will be pink. Next to it, an iris, its lavender peeking out from a snug, green blanket.
And it’s my birthday, May 15th. Mom made a white cake with cocoa fudge frosting. I got to lick the bowl. Mom, Dad, my sister, Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Earl, Aunt Mary, Aunt Bessie we’re all going to Weldon Spring’s park for a picnic. Grandma brought a cherry pie, Aunt Mary potato salad, and Aunt Bessie strawberry jello with fruit cocktail. Mom fried chicken, an unlucky bird from our coop. All together they sing happy birthday. It’s my day.
Before long I’ll walk barefoot across the green grass, squish my toes in its coolness on a hot July afternoon, sip lemonade under Grandpa’s oak tree while we wonder whose raising so much dust on the road, and commenting on when it may rain, sit with Grandma in the green rusty glider on the screened in front porch and listen to the honey bees as they disappear into the ceiling. When Carol Devenport arrives I’ll run and hide. She likes to tweak my cheek and call me her Timmy Joe. But for now, I’m running now where. I’m going to enjoy being a child, waiting for summer.