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Sunday in the Park

It happens at the post office and the market. The dry cleaners and the liquor store. The bagel shop and the coffee shop. This time of year it is The Linger that is The Language. In winter and even later in summer, when we serve as host to guests and the days and nights become interchangeable within the days of the week, the time for conversation is reduced to only the minimal useful dialogue needed to complete a task. We are a pleasant people and the exchanges are respectful, usually, but abbreviated communications to complete a transaction of goods or services.

Those of us who have multiple years of multiple seasons under our expanding belts understand this seasonal disorder. We allow for the short answer, the perfunctory exchange, in anticipation of the season when conversation returns. And despite the weather, who refuses to let go of winter, the signs are immutable the buds on the trees, the tulips opening, the goldfinches return. They have opened the space where outdoor decks become the preferred seating area and cars don’t immediately go into garages powered by remote control doors. The car in the driveway is a universally accepted symbol in our neighborhood, that says "I’m home and I’m good if you want to stop by."

Just this last weekend we had a leisurely family dinner in Salt Lake City in my daughter’s first home purchased in this past winter. Spring has already arrived just miles away and her yard, buried in November, at the time of the purchase, has melted to reveal fruit trees and rose bushes and grape vines and quail and some kind of red headed bird that was singing for our arrival. The little kids ran around the backyard and played in tents and tunnels made of fabric. We sat a spell and talked about books we were reading, movies we had seen and trips we were planning. The food was great, the lazy conversations even better.

Last Sunday there was sun and a scurrying of rakes and leaf bags and whacking of dead branches. I dragged the birdseed around to all the stations of my cross and birds immediately responded by landing and serenading for hours. My neighbor commented the doves in my yard are so large they could be a meal. And we all welcomed back my mallards. I have no water anywhere near my yard. I am blocks from the golf course and McLeod Creek. Still, this green-feather headed, punk-looking duck, and his less brilliantly adorned, monotoned really, mate, have returned to grace my yard. They fly in and stroll around and nosh on the seeds dropped from the other groups that shake the feeders in their messy meals. Somewhere in the middle of all that rather simultaneously thrilling/ mundane activity, one of my neighbor’s suggested when I finished my chores I join them on their deck, which he proclaimed, had perfect late afternoon sun.

And so I did. These kind people, who both work impossibly hard at their paid jobs and their unpaid public service, are people who always stretch my mind. We talk politics. A lot. Local, regional, national, galactic. Many, many discussions focus on what, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Anna Quinlan would say, when the political becomes personal. And so we were doing that, all three of us for quite some time. Then He disappeared into the house, fussing with dinner preparations. We continued in the sun and before I knew it we were talking about who we were and knew, when we in elementary school, She on the east coast, Me on the west. How terribly important things felt then and how deeply we felt them. Places we would hang out and people we would hang out with. It was, I guess, about who we love and how we love and why we love. There were beverages involved.

He walked out later, much later and said he peaked out the kitchen window and decided not to disturb our thoughtful conversation. He said we had hands flying and giggles going and we looked like girls having a silly, good time. Usually the use of the word "girls" in reference to fully grown women makes me crazy but in this case He was absolutely correct. We had reverted. If only for an hour or so. We were back in the woods and on the beach and watching movies in somebody’s family room at some friend’s house at 13. Back in the day when time stretched out and you actually had time to feel bored on occasion. Imagine.

On this day, we felt relaxed. And happy. And if not youthfully carefree, at least momentarily remembering the feeling. It is not a place you easily reach in the dead of winter. But right now, as the days get progressively longer and start progressively earlier, you can fit in chores and chatter. Not everyday of course, but certainly on 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.


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