Throw open your doors. The air is here.

Just before dawn it came peeping in my window, sliding above the sheets along my bare upper arm.  It tugged at my shirt while I walked to the market for butter and avocados. It all but hid for my afternoon tennis game, leaving me damp around the temples and alone on the cracking blacktop courts.  Maybe it had a lunch date, or waited until I left to sneak through the screen and sample the scones I’d left warm and defenseless on the counter.  But it’s Saturday evening and the air is back, just in from the ocean and looking for a place to stay the night.

I have known other airs. The crisp blast of a January wind, careening through the back alleys of the District of Columbia, a wind that powers through the seams of your jacket and the weave of your sweater.  The indolent drift of a North Florida afternoon, which, in September, turns a porch swing into a porch sludge.  And spring picnic air, settling across your shoulders like a silk scarf, already imperceptible by dessert.  But today’s May air is barely related–a third cousin once removed–to these other airs.  It flirts with the hairs at the napes of our necks, but does not demand our attention.  It lingers in the lilac bush on the corner, then suggests we pull on a sweater.

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Today’s May air is a little bit coy, but she knows she can get away with it.  And it is a she, quite clearly, so let’s despense with the gender-neutral pronouns.  After all, we’re the ones on the patio, begging, even now at dusk–or especially now–please, if you want, please come in. She is hot and cold, and we can’t commit to socks or sandals, but she is intoxicating with her evening perfume, the way she breathes behind our ears.

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