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  • I used to buy fresh flowers at the grocery every week until I started feeling guilty about what seemed a luxurious self-indulgence. I would be GOOD, I told myself, and save rather than splurge on things I don't need. I'm supposed to be conserving money in case I lose my job, thanks to the casino we call Wall Street, and go from being a publisher to a pauper. Or if not a pauper, then a penny pincher and do-withouter. So for almost a year, I've turned a blind eye to the purple irises, the white hydrangea, the big open-hearted sunflowers. Last week, though, the peonies arrived. Buckets of deep-rose colored ones first. Yes, they were expensive but I had peony fever and I said just this once. And now, this week the palest pink ones are here, with a dash of alizarin red in their centers. And I caved again. They don't last long, these goddesses of the garden, opening in one lush, languid burst of sensuality. But their scent reminds me of my grandmother's house in summer--the quiet rooms, the polished furniture, the lingering smell of woodsmoke from last winter, starched white curtains gently billowing against the window screens on a long gold-green afternoon. And peonies blooming in the yard. I would have paid twice what I did for the inrushing of that precious sense memory as I cupped their flower faces in my hands and inhaled.
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