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Sunday In The Park

The moon messes with me. The full moon. It pulls at all the tidal currents of my body and changes sleep patterns and plants dreams that never appear any other time. The black-out drapes in the bedroom don’t matter. The light of the moon finds its way in, into my interior landscape by mythical ancient means. And invariably what it means is to mess with me.

My most fantastical thinking comes when the moon is full. Ideas present themselves from places I don’t remember visiting. People past often choose to reappear on full-moon nights, in my dreams. And adventures that my waking mind never considered happen in animated detail, in my dreams.

Not every full moon, mind you, but more often than not.

Some nights I’ll sleep straight through as if on some ship that has sailed and I cast about looking for calm waters until the dawn. Other nights I wake with a start and consider where I’ve been just moments before and wonder which parts portend some future adventure I should be alert to. And which moments are merely the product of a restless mind.

There are no remedies I have found to alter the pull. No amount of sweet herbal tea. No nightcap. No warm bath. No favorite jammies. Bad television late at night only feels like bad television late at night. Reading tires my eyes, of course, and places me in other cities, sometimes in other centuries. I become a child or a man or a proper English wife. But I must be careful who I bring into my moonstruck head late at night; they are apt to reappear hours later, as the central cast of a dream.

There are schools of thought on all this. Some would say I am highly impressionable when the moon is full. Some would say imaginative. Still others would use the Latin and say simply, loony.

I don’t know if it was always so. Perhaps. Perhaps when I was younger I attributed the restlessness to other things. A meal. A beverage. An argument. An unsettling movie. A bad day at work. But now I seem to know it is none of that and perhaps all of that, but it is, for certain, the moon.

Visually, the moon reflected on the snow is the best of all the full moons. The neighborhood in the middle of the night can appear to be fully lit and the adventures of nocturnal creatures, some even human, become a kind of otherworldly landscape that disappears with the dawn.

I have learned to keep by my bedside a notebook and pen and I have a bedside lamp that lights up with only the touch of my hand, softly in the room. So I’ll scribble notes. Sometimes no more than to-do lists that bubble up, but sometimes thoughts I didn’t know I had. Ideas I want to try out. Places I should visit. Letters I really need to write.

The next day I will try to decipher those notes. Which on occasion I can do. The flourishes dance across the page sometimes. Or they become tiny little scratches that perhaps were coded nocturnally at the time but have lost their importance and therefore translation with the morning light.

Rarely, but sometimes, there is a message in the morning, written by an unrecognizable hand, that is surprising in its insight. A code broken that speaks of a coda worth considering or reconsidering.

This has been one of those weeks. Where I forget the cycles of the moon and am surprised to find my sleep patterns disturbed and perchance delighted. I was able to see the deer return to my yard and nudge the birdfeeders to feed their young. A mom and a dad and a baby came by just last night. And if I didn’t believe my eyes at the midnight hour I had evidence of their tracks in the morning in the crusty snow cover.

I finished books that had been resting in a pile on the bedside table until now. "The Soloist," about a homeless man, a talented musician who had trained at Julliard, is a complicated piece of non-fiction written by a Los Angeles Times columnist that forces one to confront what means to become involved in a stranger’s life and one’s desire to change behaviors without understanding their root cause. And then "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society," a fictional piece about forgotten people in a very real time in the Channel Islands when they were occupied by Germans and the humanity they found by befriending strangers and becoming less strange themselves.

Over on the indie channel, my late-night wanderings had me watching the very modern version of "Hamlet" that stars Ethan Hawke and Julia Stiles and Bill Murray and Sam Shepard and a host of other amazing talents. This production is set in modern-day New York and uses cell phones and fax machines to deliver soliloquies. It is in modern dress with limos and with big business taking a role. Even without the full moon I would have found the production surreal and fantastical and brilliant. Honestly brilliant.

And all that waking and dreaming and restless pondering produced pages of notes, many still indecipherable, but some curious enough to demand attention in a waking state. Curious enough to want to try and unravel and see if they might be messages meant to take me to other places that I can only dream about on full-moon nights and perhaps only realize on moonless nights.

I will gather those notes and try to remember the feelings when the daylight becomes the twilight, the time the Scottish call the gloaming. Sometime soon, perhaps this very Sunday in the Park

Teri Orr is the director of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation that provides programming for the George S. and Delores Dore 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.


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