Arno River, Firenze, Italia

Arno River, Firenze, Italia

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A grandmother in mauve.

On my way to the antique shops, I passed by an elderly woman.  She was standing at the foot of an intricately carved wooden door.  I was drawn to her quiet presence.  She had a sort of maternal appeal, as though she had successfully raised many children and was content to bask in the glory of her grandchildren. 

A mauve (the sort of grandmother dusty rose color) blazer hung on her thin shoulders and was accented quite elegantly by a string of white pearls at her throat.  She hugged her elbows close to her sides as though providing some sort of protection from the elements.  (Although, it was a balmy, warm afternoon.) Her hands, folded delicately, one on top of the other, with long slender and bony fingers, clasped a silver wallet.  She was beautiful.

And she was laughing, her gaze focused on the ground, her eyes following something.  And naturally, I looked down too, hoping to find what so avidly held her attention.

An ordinary pigeon, like all pigeons in Florence, darted back and forth at her feet, pecking at invisible morsels of food.  It had the common grey and white coloring, but like the woman, had a sort of rosy pink cast to its feathers.  (Ironic, that they shared this this color, this maternal characteristic, the one that first drew me to the woman.  And I really despise pigeons.) 

But something about its antics caught me, as though I was able to see it through her eyes.  And I paused to stop and watch it with her.

When I looked up to continue on my way, she was staring at me, her eyes crinkled so deeply they nearly disappeared.  Her lips shaped in the most amused and somehow, grateful, of smiles, as though, by stopping to watch the pigeon, I had shared in something personal with her. 

And I walked past her, between her and the pigeon, following her gaze with my eyes, until I could no longer without physically turning to face her.  But just before I turned my head forward, a few fingers lifted from their perch atop her silver purse.

Perhaps she was merely resituating her hands to continue her wait by the door.  Or, I’d like to think of it as a wave, that since the exchange, we were more than strangers, but friends, brought together by the most common of birds.  

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