Sunday in the Park
April 3, 2009
The morning was broken and in a joyful way. I went out to pick up the newspaper from the driveway (a habit I realize is destined to soon be considered quaint and passé) and I saw a riot of green shoots poking though the ground. I saw them because there was clear evidence someone in my neighborhood had been in my tiny rock garden, taking things away. Things like dead morning-glory vines and dead rosemary branches and sticks and stuff that had gathered in the winter. Someone, and I have my suspicions, had cleared the space for the greens and hints of purple (baby iris, crocus, and, soon, tulips) to show through. It was such a lovely surprise and I drove off to work feeling cared for and about, in an unexpected way.
The day turned into a firestorm of urgent, Urgent, URGENT things that seemed annoying and perhaps, ultimately, not important but draining and urgent all the same. I was headed home at day’s end to draw a bath and have a quiet night when I remembered I had promised to drop by my friend’s house to visit with their friends who were just in town for a few days. And this was their only free night. I said I could stay for a drink but I made it very clear I could not stay for dinner.
I forget that other folks still entertain and set tables with fine china and real glasses cocktail hour with yummy things set on lovely dishes. I sighed a bit at the setting. And I watched my friends, who for too long now I have only interacted with in professional settings, be such gracious hosts. Their new friends are so much fun that, after 45 minutes, we had covered important topics from Gillian Welch to Allison Krauss and People magazine vs. Us and "Big Love" and "Saving Grace" and bike racers and the quandary of lycra being a privilege, and not a right, for both men and women.
When the mashed sweet potatoes were being whipped in the kitchen and the whole house took on that perfume, I decided the smell was amazing and so was the company, and really maybe I could just stay a little longer. Urgent wasn’t important at the moment. Then we stepped up the conversation to why did we move here and when did we move here, exactly, and why do we stay and where else would we go and does Park City have a soul or is it just a community of entitled-acting folks? And what about grace? The questions came fast and funny and intense and thoughtful and respectful and inquisitive and insightful and, on occasion, a bit in our face. I was so challenged to define, and occasionally defend, my answers. Hours past that one-cocktail hour I was sad to see the evening end.
I don’t live far away, maybe two blocks if it was broken up, but really just one long, long Park Meadows block, to the edge of my cul-de-sac. So it wasn’t long before I walked in the door, floating from the evening with good old friends and new friends. I nearly stepped on the plastic bag on the stairs. It was a clear Ziploc with yummy chocolate cookies stuffed with M&Ms in them. I read the handwritten magic-marker note that said, "For Miss Teri."
There is only one little neighborhood boy, a four-year-old, Hudson, who calls me "Miss Teri," in the most charming Southern-style way. He has "planted" rocks in my vegetable garden and wheeled up to my back door for lemonade and joined my grandchildren in the wading pool. His mother knows the secret in-case-of-emergency way into my house. I guess something told her that cookies today would qualify for emergency rations. I was gleeful at the surprise and the kindness.
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And then I thought back on the entire day from the uncovered flower shoots to the myriad of frustrations to the cookies and, in the middle, the civilized folks at civilized dinner with stimulating conversation. And back to the question is there grace in Park City? I picked up the bag of cookies and put on the tea kettle. I can’t answer for everyone but I do know in my small corner of this small town on this small planet there is grace on days when we least expect it. Grace amazing, saving, and available possibly 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 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.