Sunday in the Park
May 22, 2009
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was once a fashionista (hell, we didn’t even have term like that back in the day), but I used be well turned out, as they say. I worked in the fashion industry in the ’70s when I was several dress sizes smaller. Six months before clothes made it to the department stores, I was wearing those new items and loving it. I was also wearing platform shoes and poodle-cut perms and other things left back in the distant past.
At this stage, I think the best you could say — something I really pride myself on about my appearance — it that I’m clean, almost all the time. Certainly all the time I am in public. Maybe not cutting edge in the fashion department, but neat enough and recently bathed and with unpolished nails you can see underneath, clearly.
This weekend when I looked down at myself as I got out of the car on Sunday to shop, twice in the very same weekend, in my favorite place to spend money this time of year, I saw dirt on me everywhere. I was wearing a dirty, tired T-shirt thrown over my dirty, baggy-kneed pants. My ball cap barely contained the hanks of wild hair all about my head. There was dirt on my sandaled feet and certainly under my nails. I just gave myself a goofy grin and continued on my way.
I encountered fellow shoppers in similar disarray and we gave one another goofy, inner-circle grins of acknowledgement. Those who garden know the look of serenity that comes from just having been digging in the dirt. And we had gathered at the shrine of the greenhouse and coppered pots. The center for seeds and starters. The place where a spark of the divine is often needed to nurture fragile flora. Where the staff would say things like, "If you’re gonna buy that basil this soon, baby it. Take in every night. Do you have a cover for those cosmos?"
But oh, what fools we mortals and hopeful gardeners be. We laugh and throw caution and wildflower seeds to the wind and we gather up, if not rose petals, rose-colored pansies and starts of lavender and lilac.
At the Park City Nursery, where they really do know what grows, all weekend there were encounters with old friends not seen since last fall when we bumped into one another with bulbs in hand. It was as social as a Deer Valley summer concert — just missing the cocktails to make it complete. We pointed out petunias and gardenias. Thyme and thyme again, we talked about tearing up our lawns and putting in smart, drought-tolerant ground covers. We sighed at the wind chimes, the giant ceramic pots in gumball colors, the glass birdbaths on iron sticks. There were occasional cart crashes and butt bumping in the crowded aisles, but everyone seemed good natured about the encounters.
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I started out there early Saturday morning. Clean. With closed-toed sneakers and clean hair and clothes and nails. I loaded my cart and car with flats and bags and packages of seeds. And when I reached my house, with all my pots and baskets dug out from a fine winter’s rest in the garage, I dug in. Pinks and purples were, once again, the colors of choice, but nearly every arrangement also included a sweet-smelling herb. Lavender here, rosemary there, even sage rounded out the plantings. And before I knew it, the sun had set and I was happy and dirty and sore. I did the right thing. I showered before bed. I did.
But the next morning I was up with the sun. And I was planting more pots and baskets and places in the yard. And before all the containers were finished, I had run out of supplies. That’s when I unconsciously just got in the car to drive to the nursery. "Back again so soon," they smiled. "Did you manage to plant all your purchases from yesterday?"
I confessed I was focusing first on the containers and I still had some flats of flowers to plant in the yard. "Don’t forget to water them if you don’t get to them all today and keep them in the shade." They love their plants. I half nodded, half bowed in respect.
By Sunday night, when I had my little sprinkler attached to my hose and I was dragging it around the yard, I was admiring my handiwork. There were clay pots and hanging baskets and old wooden wine crates and broken-handled tea pots all filled with vibrant flowering plants. The yard furniture had open umbrellas and plump cushions. The tables had rock coasters and tea lights. I sat on the porch steps and I sighed, a deep, long sigh. Spring has arrived. All the promises and contracts with the universe made in the fall — when hope was all a garden many of us had — now seem ready to be kept. Answered. Fulfilled. It doesn’t feel the same as last spring. It feels far more hard won. Not taken for granted. Appreciated. Deeply, deeply appreciated. The dirt on my clothes was a statement of something honest and direct and tangible about my efforts. And it was all simply satisfying. Not a bad way to spend a 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.