Sunday in the Park
August 27, 2010
So many years ago I don’t remember, I realized I could live without an alarm clock. I just tell myself the night before when I need to wake up and I do. Like a lot of folks who don’t have nine-to-five weekday work lives, my Saturday may be your Tuesday. My day might end at midnight and not need to start again until noon the next day. Or I might work from 8 a.m. until 2 a.m. and have two days off after that. My body and I worked a deal somehow and I eliminated the need for an annoying alarm clock.
I try to have my mornings start quietly. There are rituals of tea and honey. Archaic news-delivery systems by papers. Never a television. Local radio most days. Best for breakfast: a dessert saved from the night before. I turn off phones and check for messages when I choose. My days are unpredictable and so are most nights; it seems whatever control I have is in my mornings.
This summer those mornings have been surrounded by an orange-fenced area of disturbance. For the first time in over a decade, there is construction in the ‘hood. My mornings have lost their reverent space. And I am often woken up on my "Saturday" of the week by pounding and drilling and cement pouring and dumpster-moving noise. My rhythm is off.
One morning — one I knew I could sleep in a bit this week — while I was drifting in that place between sleep and waking, a soft pounding was pushing me into wakefulness. I was resentful. I tried willing it to stop. It continued. More insistent. Like many tiny hammers tapping. I threw off the covers and marched (more like a sleepy stagger) toward the bedroom door that leads outside. I looked through the glass, down on the tiny deck, to see six magpies breaking into a bag of bird seed I had left there. Their pecking on the deck, one by one, was the noise. The construction crew hadn’t even shown up yet. I was so ready to be cranky about something I thought I understood that I had to laugh at the clown-like birds. Tricksters. Impostors. I promised myself the lesson of the day would be not to jump to conclusions.
Then I forgot. I showered and, tea in hand, was walking out the door when my next-door part-time neighbor called to me. I love this guy and I always enjoy a conversation. I assumed he wanted to just chat. I had run out of time this morning and I hoped we could catch up in the evening. But he seemed to have a purpose to calling to me. I put my bags in the car and walked over. I noticed his garbage cans were overflowing with yard debris. Which seemed odd this time of year. I half listened to him tell me I had missed an adventure the day before. And then he started to tell me …
I tried not look at my watch. He said, up the road a ways, maybe close to a block, you know that house that, years ago, built the tall garage to fit an R.V. in? Well, up there, a guy in a roofing truck — did I know the roofing company? (Did I mention my neighbor is retired with buckets of time.) Well, the roofer was inside, giving them a bid on a new roof. And it seems he didn’t put on the emergency brake and the truck started rolling down our street. It bounced off somebody else’s trash and turned and crashed into the brand-new mailbox base this neighbor had so carefully poured last weekend.
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He was laughing while telling the story but serious about the implications. Yep, he concluded, it stopped right there in your tree. And I noticed the front of my huge pine had bit of divot in it. I looked at the tree and the hole and he was still talking and I was thinking how lucky we all were that no small child had been around when all this happened. Then I drove off to work.
Later, much later in the day, I had a flashback to his garbage cans. All those pine branches sticking out. My sweet neighbor had taken it upon himself to trim my tree where the truck had crashed and simply made it look as fine as it could. He hadn’t knocked on my door when I got in that night nor left a note about what he had done. He just unfolded the story, like any other, the next day as part of my morning.
Be observant, some Old Testament-style voice rang out in my head. And, certainly, be grateful. And I plan to work on all that, whenever I have 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. She is also a former editor of The Park Record.