Sunday in the Park
July 17, 2009
Last summer I think the entire crop numbered less than a dozen. The magpies and I worked out a deal and for every two strawberries they ate they left one. This year, given the rains of June, the green leaves spread out and filled in between each other and there was a thick blanket of foliage hiding the berries. Oh sure, a couple were visible around the edge of the garden, and I explained to the magpies those were their "just desserts." But hidden underneath that layer of green, I have been harvesting breakfast for nearly three weeks. Not every day, but every third day or so there are another 30-plus perfect, sweeter-than-sweet berries growing in my little garden.
This provided much excitement when the grandkids were up. We grabbed a little basket for each and they tiptoed in the strawberry patch and picked and ate and ate and picked. The lettuce and beets and carrots we planted are becoming identifiable and the snow peas and squash are leafing out.
Like so many folks, I have a garden this summer like I have never had the whole time I have lived in Park City. It is as if someone comes in the middle of the night and injects Miracle Gro into all my plants and flowers. Well, to be fair, everyone’s plants and flowers. I was aware of this indiscriminate lushness this week when, for the first time this season (I’m embarrassed to admit) I walked down the McLeod Creek Trail. (When I moved to town in 1979, the old timers called the water Kids’ Creek because all the kids would learn to fish there.) Let me just say this trail is ten minutes from my front door and such a quiet restful place that I always wonder why I don’t spend more time there. The bird life was vibrant at the end of the workday — much chatter and flybys of brightly colored birds that I need to pull out my bird book and identify. There were butterflies and dragonflies. And the plant life was glorious.
My favorite colors for my own garden are pink and purple. That stretch of the trail is as if someone had planted it all just for me. I need my plant book to be certain of the flowers, too, but there are wild roses and iris and lupine and tall grasses that wave in the breeze. The benches along the trail allow for some reflection, contemplation, and just gazing at the water crashing over the rocks. Nearly a decade ago, at the site of the first bench, the Dalai Lama’s monks poured sacred sand from the mandala they had created during their week-long stay into that spot on the creek. We all also had a bit of sand to place in the water and send our prayers out on those gentle currents. When I reach that bench I always sit a spell to reflect on my day, which is a kind a prayer, I suppose.
The other afternoon, while the sun was still high in the sky, I sat on my back deck and kept turning over the phrase, "the fullness of summer." The sprinklers were swishing in the yard. The neighborhood kids were playing Frisbee. The dogs were joining in, too. The doves in my yard sounded worried if not mournful and some songbirds were trilling in delight. The flowers looked lovely and the trees provided shade. In the middle of July, I suspect, some would call this the fullness of summer, but I think it is more than time; it is a feeling.
This has been such a complicated year for so very many people. We have, as a nation, been forced to reassess what matters and what resources we have to protect what matters. I know it has caused a shift in spending habits and, I would offer, one of those habits would be how we spend our time. Maybe I’m just living in a hybrid kind of place but I see a whole lot of folks sticking close to home and feeling pretty darn good about it. Firing up the barbie, sitting on porches, having conversations and remembering how to cook (OK, that last part may just be me). I have been reading again, a lifelong passion I lost track of somehow this winter: magazines, newspapers, and even a big fat novel that had me turning pages long past midnight last night.
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The evenings are perfect sleeping weather with the screen door open to the night sounds. And critters knock into planters and deck chairs and wind chimes most nights around 2 a.m. I always think I should get up and try to spot the skunk or raccoon or fox that may be making merry, but I never do. I lay there quiet and imagine who might be under my window.
It feels like time is suspended a bit right now and it is a luxury to have the day not end with the workday but be extended until the last light has fully disappeared. Disappeared from the mountaintops. Disappeared from the creek bed. Disappeared from the birdfeeders and garden. At the dimming of the day, as Bonnie Raitt sings, the hour when the sun has set and light is still leaving. I call it a gift right now, at the fullness of summer, on each day, especially on our Sundays in the Park …
Teri Orr is the director of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts and the Big Stars Bright Nights Summer Concert Series at Deer Valley. She is also a former editor of The Park Record.