Sunday in the Park
July 15, 2011
I think my home is the most welcoming in the summer. Certainly it is the busiest with guests. And, honestly, the whole place quite comes to life. The thyme-purple carpet, met by the grass-green carpet with the leaf-green curtains and the begonia-pink accents under the sky-blue ceiling, make for a cheerful palette of colors. The familiar chairs and tables and cushions look so inviting, I find myself making excuses to just stay home and just snuggle down in the comfort of my home.
The fact that my living space doubles right now because I am living outdoors as much as possible means that I am trying each day to strike a balance between my desires and those of the natural inhabitants of the same spaces. Mostly this works.
For example, if I fill my bird feeders regularly, I can expect to be rewarded with songs and sightings and the good-natured bird scuffles that take place from time to time. If those feeders run empty, I can expect fewer brightly colored birds with their lilting songs and the wrath of the magpies
In the past two years I have added corn to the mix — on the ground or the edges of benches. Yes, the magpies will eat this too, but mostly it was for the nervous squirrel that appeared and added his song to the mix. This year, that squirrel found a mate and they made babies. Babies who behave like babies and play everywhere and eat everything and think they can show up anywhere and they will be welcome. I am careful, more careful than any other time in the history of my house, to close the screen doors.
Something quite unknown is living under my front porch. Which is odd, since the wood porch rests on the grass and there is no space to be "under." Still, there are holes that have appeared at the corners where something has dug a tiny tunnel to reach a darkened room. Friends have suggested voles and moles and even snakes. Other than the tunnels, I have witnessed no other evidence of any of these visitors. But I acknowledge their presence.
I know there are others that come when I’m not observant. They turn leaves into lace in the vegetable garden. They land on my unprotected arm or neck and later, much later, I will be annoyed at the bumps they have created.
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But last night while I slept, with my windows wide open to the sounds of the season, I slept right through some kind of party. A ruckus among us. As evidenced by my thyme purple carpet and the grass-green one, too. Something had pulled stuffing out of the seat cushions in the bent-willow chairs. There were clouds of white on the ground. There were flowerpots knocked over and decorations amiss. And two branches from my beloved Japanese maple tree were on the grass-green carpet with a shower of leaves all around. I have to assume a larger, more aggressive creature was in our shared homey space. A proper neighborhood investigation has been launched with the resident wildlife expert consulted about next steps and precautions.
Here’s the one thing I know with some certainty this week: I choose to invite these guests into my space. They behave like wild animals. This is to be expected. The gift of sitting outside for breakfast, or a long nap under an umbrella, or watching the sun fade from the swing on the back porch, all should come with a reminder: All spaces are shared here. Every day — and night — even Sunday in the Park
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the 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.