Sunday in the Park
March 18, 2011
I had grabbed the clear plastic box of basil at the market but I didn’t look closely at it. It was bright green and that seemed good enough. When it came across the scanner, the sweet clerk looked up and said, "Would you like me to go get you another box?" I had no idea why, so I asked. And he pointed out the spot of red that was moving inside the box. It had little black spots on the wings. It was a ladybug. I was disproportionately elated.
"Goodness no!" I exclaimed. Think of what it took for that little bug to survive the journey to Park City. I would take it home and I would figure out a way to celebrate the bug. When I reached home with the car full of groceries, I was reminded by the familiar car in my driveway that I had agreed to watch my grandson, Tyler, for a few hours while his mother was at work. He and I unloaded the goods and I was folding grocery bags when I saw the basil still sitting on the counter. I brought Tyler over and showed him the red dot moving in the sea of green. He squealed with delight like any 7-year-old boy might. He opened the box and coaxed Ms Bug onto the counter and we had a thoughtful conversation about where she might have lived — a greenhouse, a field — and did she escape in that box or had she been kidnapped. (Maybe by pirates. That would have been cool.)
According the basil package, it started out in Colorado. I’m gonna guess she was a greenhouse gal. I don’t think of our neighbor state as having great temperate places in the winter to grow such a fragile herb.
I took a plastic baggie and put some water in it and holes and some of that basil and we put Ms Bug to bed. When his mother came I explained it all and I said I knew what the odds were but still My kind daughter looked at us both and, good sport, mother and daughter that she is, she took the bug with her. I know it survived the drive and made it to Salt Lake City intact. Because she told me so. It has been days now and, though I have seen her since, I keep forgetting to ask about Ms Bug. My daughter hasn’t felt the need for an update. So either the bug is fine in a boy’s room or they let "Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home." Those are the only two answers I would want to hear.
A few weeks ago I was in Palm Springs at a conference. The desert air was warm during the day and we wore sandals and sat on the grass outside for lunch and walked around our hotel campus without so much as sweaters in the evenings. It was intoxicating. Before you know it, spring and summer will come to Park City and we’ll be doing all those things here. But we are close now to April, the cruelest month in a mountain town. The hints of spring, the bluebird days, the crocus flowers, the green shoots of tulip leaves are all so far away from the real deal of sitting on porches and watching sunsets and listening to children learn to ride bikes and find bugs in the yard.
The mud and debris from this winter of some discontent is a sludge that no fresh snow covers for long. Broken things and discarded food wrappers and yard art that the heavy snows have bent beyond recognition. The yard that has been covered in nothing-I-can-do-about-it-white for months suddenly has receding lines revealing brown grass and cut back/down bushes, also brown that for now just look forlorn. I know the grass will green up and those brown sticks will become lush green bushes with flowers in gay profusion. But for now, the once beauty of simply white and brown feels monotonous and cheerless and endless. Just endless.
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I am grateful Ms. Bug showed up at this time of year as a messenger that surprising living creatures can sometimes come unbidden. That all the Legos and dumb animated television shows don’t hold a light stick to a real live bug on a snowy day, stuck indoors. That when it came time for Tyler to leave, I got a big squeeze for finding him the ladybug. And while I took a bit of credit with the child, for you gentle reader, I need to confess the truth. The ladybug found me. A little bit of cheer in a gloomy time to celebrate this Sunday 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. She is also a former editor of The Park Record.