Sunday in the Park | ParkRecord.com

Sunday in the Park

Teri Orr, Record columnist

In case I wanted to think I was too busy for any kind of reflection this week, the universe got in my face and showed me differently. For that matter, more than in my face — in the windows of my house, all over my yard, and the neighbor’s yard and the yards beyond. In fact, all over the hillsides and treetops and really everywhere I could look. And it happened more than just once.

If you were in the Park City area last Sunday evening, you know what I’m referring to. I had returned from a weekend at the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City — a kind of busman’s holiday. Rather than drive up the faster but less scenic route on I-15, I took the more meandering U.S. Highway 89, up through the center of the state, past horse and cattle ranches tucked under mountains, and tiny towns with whitewashed buildings and home-cookin’ cafes. Truth be told, I had taken this path, in part, to hit one such cafe, where the pies are so famous they were featured years ago in a National Geographic story. Mom’s Cafe in Salina. It’s a stop worth making if you like pie. I loaded some slices to share in my ‘hood when I returned home.

See, I have these great neighbors who help me live my life. My snow disappears from my driveway and walkway in the winter. Year round, when I travel, my papers are collected and placed on my kitchen counter. There are surprises that show up in my garden from colored rocks to funny yard art. It can be difficult to know how to reciprocate. Pie, I have learned, at least brings a smile. There were no whole pies for sale so I bought slices — cherry, apple, blueberry, German chocolate. I returned home with my bounty, left it on one neighbor’s porch and found the other set of neighbors sitting on their porch. I joined them for conversation and a beverage.

We were talking about everything, which is what we do. Books we were reading, city politics, the arts, the farmer’s market produce and recent travels. Rambling conversations that easily took the roads less traveled. In the course of our discourse the light started to change. The folks with experience said it looked like tornado weather, kinda. There had been rain, it was forecast again, but this was The Between. It was also the start of the sunset, which can stretch out and suspend time on a summer night.

We shifted in our chairs. We were out of the line of vision for the sun. We walked into the yard and then into the street. The clouds were a shape I have never seen in the sky. Perfectly round. Like cotton balls. Big puffy circles. And the colors in the sky were nothing you had ever seen, even in the Big Crayon box of 64. A blue that a robin’s egg might have been, but stronger. Not quite Najavo jewelry turquoise but nearly. Pink coral like a Hawaiian flower almost. And an orange that backlit the whole scene that was fiery but kind.

By the time I walked all the way into the street and across into the cul-de-sac, the other set of neighbors were out, camera in hand. We were pointing and sighing and exclaiming and expressing our awe. It was so other worldly it felt like an elaborate special effect. So much so that my younger friend proclaimed, "That is a sky by Spielberg." And I did not correct him.

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I think even Spielberg would have credited God for this one.

Three nights later, this time in the throes of a storm, elements of that same sunset returned with passionate colors and even sound effects. It was a workday night now but I put aside my bring-home-work and walked outside. You don’t have be a devoutly religious person to be humbled by nature’s performance. I just sat on the back porch swing under the eaves while the rain and the refractions of the light played out. I knew my summer had been moving too fast and this struck as divine evidence of my need to sit for spell and absorb the moment.

By the time the light faded and the trees were becoming silhouettes and I returned inside, my pile of papers seemed silly. I drew a bath instead of a flow chart. I lit a scented candle and inhaled the perfume. And I expressed a kind of prayer. In my ongoing, often interrupted dialogue with a higher being, I acknowledged both gratitude and awe.

My dreams that night were Technicolor and filled with both motion and sound. Instead of waking up tired, though, I felt I had traveled far, far away and was fully rested. Vacations, I was reminded, can be defined in so many ways. Sometimes they can be as simple as an observant Sunday (or Wednesday) 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. She is also a former editor of The Park Record.