He had gotten to church later than usual and slipped into his regular spot just as the service started. The plaid jacket he had worn on the walk to church that early spring morning was now too warm and he shrugged it off at the same time trying to find the correct spot in his missal. His coat slid off the pew and as he bent to recover it, he caught the light, fresh scent of citrus. Standing he noticed the person in the seat in front of him -a woman of average height and slender build. Her shoulder length chestnut hair was flecked with gray and caught carelessly in a tortoise shell clip which seemed to be slipping. The clean smell was definitely coming from her. He noticed her shoulders and the line of her back and wondered briefly how it would feel to put his hand on the small of her back. She wore a pretty blue and white print dress that, while appropriate for the setting, did flatter her figure - at least from the back. Shaking his head to get focused on what he was there for, he found his spot in the book and began singing along with his fellow churchgoers. He closed his eyes to better concentrate on the service and became aware of a sweet alto voice singing harmony. Tilting his head in an effort to locate the voice, eyes still closed, he realized it was coming from the lemony-smelling woman in front of him. His eyes popped open and he was again distracted from the service as he noticed the way her silver earrings hung from her earlobes and moved as she sang, the gentle curve of the side of her neck and how she would occasionally scrunch her shoulders up and then drop them back down or reach up to massage her neck. He had no concept of her age - it's hard to tell that from behind but he found himself checking , unsuccessfully, to see if she wore a ring on her left hand. The entire congregation sitting brought him out of his thoughts and he too sat, a little heavily. It had been such a long time since he had really noticed other women - his wife of 25 happy years had died suddenly several years ago and he had just moved through life in a daze - one day melting into the next. The fog had lifted little by little but colors were still muted in his world - until this morning. He was surprised and mildly embarrassed at his inattentiveness to the service and again shook his head admonishing himself to pay attention. As he listened to the readings he had a passing thought that he would definitely speak to this woman in the social hall afterwards. That seemed to settle him and he concentrated on the service until a thought came unbidden to his mind.... "I wonder what her face looks like."
Northern Indiana is pancake flat - except for some surprising gently rolling hills sprinkled here and there. Driving down a hilly country road yesterday admiring the neatly manicured fields (some looking freshly turned) which will host armies of corn stalks in just a few months, I was swept away by the beauty of spring in the Great Lakes area. Gusty winds blew the decorative grasses planted alongside a white frame farmhouse and bent a windbreak sensuously. Forsythia bushes untouched by pruning shears danced like flames in the buffeting wind. The car window was down halfway and a pasture filled with black-speckled bovine gave off the earthy aroma of manure and sweet hay. Red-winged blackbirds seemed to dot the top of each fence post and several mallards flew by overhead braving the wind to reach a pond sparkling blue in one of the farmyards. The first blooms on trees and shrubs along the road in shades of red, delicate pink and white provided a sudden splash of color after the grays and browns of winter. The spring-soft air tousled my hair and I was reminded once again of why people fall in love this time of year.