You might say it was just the pull of the moon and you would be right. But it was more. It was something so rare and memorable and precious it needs to be archived. Not captured like a lightning bug in a jar because the very act of capturing usually kills the thing. But remembered in the sacred place where the best moments are held firmly, yet loosely, in place.
The first dinner I hope to never forget took place in the middle of a mountain meadow, high, high, high up on Powder Mountain, above the town of Eden, in a camp created just for the weekend for 800 plus people. On Saturday night, after 48 hours of activities and heady speakers and headier still conversations, we were told to be prepared to walk from our camp for about half an hour and bring our head lamps and jackets so we could walk back later in the dark.
We did as told and when we crested a tiny ridge after walking and talking, we looked upon a meadow, straight out of the Sound of Music. It was filled with a bed of wildflowers, tucked into the top of the top of the mountain and there was something white, running the full length of the field and perfectly straight. As we came closer we saw the long white snake was, in fact, a single dinner table set with crystal and china on white linen with brown wicker picnic baskets scattered every eight feet. There was an audible gasp from the group of folks gathered who are used to creating wow moments for others but rarely are wowed themselves.
The global gathering did what it does, found a place at the table with people that for the most part were new to them. The baskets held bread and cheese and wine and old fashioned glass jars filled with homemade mustards and sauces and delights. The radio was set to the music selected by the pirate radio station created just for this weekend. The beautiful, inlaid mixed-wood pocket knife was there to slice the salami. The solar lantern turned out to be lovely but hardly mattered as the moon snuck up the back side of the meadow and washed us all in moonlight. The salad was served and the heaping platters of fresh veggies followed by... the quail was it? Or maybe just a tiny, tasty chicken.
The conversation quickly graduated from the "where are you from" and "what do you do" to "what do you want to do... next?" There was a great deal of laughter at our section of the table and the in-the-moment-knowledge that we were delighting in so much more than food. When out of nowhere, John Baptiste appeared, to lead a second line parade of musicians down the nearly quarter mile of table, it was a pinch-me-now-moment.
And then, just because the universe was feeling expansive, two nights later it served me up another dinner filled with magic.
This one was down the road in my neighborhood, at a dear friend's house who, at 5:30 invited me over to "grill something" at 6. There were seven of us sitting out back watching the baby horse frolic in pasture while we feasted on co-op fresh veggies, grilled fish and local bread and we talked and laughed and then repeated the cycle. At some point we moved to an amazing upstairs deck with both a heat lamp and a gas faux-fire-pit thingy. The moon popped up on cue right behind the mountain and danced on the deck for all the hours we told stories about where we were in life and what brought us there. We lost all track of time because of that moon and one day had slipped over to become the next before we headed to our respective homes. It was safe, that place of sharing and laughter, in a way only longtime friends understand. And for just a few hours, it took us away from our all too real lives, filled with complicated life changes.
And 48 hours after that dinner... the moon pulled again. That story can wait to be told...
Here's what I want to capture... be ready for life to offer you moments you could not have imagined just moments before. And when you are in those places of bliss, have your heart take a snapshot. Later, you can open your heart and be right back in that water-colored place of surprise and comfort. And while we all have cameras that can make us feel like professional photographers, they only capture one frame at a time. You can replay and display them, just one at time. When you have images dancing together in your memory they become a kind of movie at play. Where the romance of the moment speaks and the players start to dance around and you hear the music played and you allow yourself to wonder, what did I ever do in life to end up with that evening, those evenings, so precious?
I understand from those who understand such things, there are symbols and signs and manifestations of magic at play all around us, all the time. The pull of the moon is especially strong on warm summer nights. Which is something to consider this Sunday in the Park...
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the organization that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.