Sunday in the Park
November 12, 2010
It has been such a slow seduction this fall. The warmth. The leaves lingering on the trees. Letting the yard furniture stay out a bit too long.
Last weekend there was no more denying winter’s approach and so I bustled about, cramming all the fall chores — well, most all the fall chores — into two half days. Clothes in and out, sweaters unearthed, ditto boots and coats and gloves and scarves. Moving a summer’s worth of stuff that landed in the garage where the car should be. Up on the rafters, into a dumpster, under a tarp, off to St Mary’s.
I bought stew meat and a fat chicken and root vegetables. New candles and more honey and tea bags. Canned goods. Okay, even ice cream.
And I filled the bird feeders, which most of the fall have been neglected.
I broke down and put four new tires on my car. I moved furniture around in the living room to make bringing in the firewood easier. I pulled out a bag of tulip bulbs and placed them on a bench outside so I would remember to plant them.
And I started making lists of things that I have been too busy to pay attention to. Notes to faraway friends. Dinners with people I like. Browsing on Main Street. Watching some exquisitely bad television.
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Then it started to happen: The animals started to talk to me. Well, converse, actually. The birds were first. They didn’t scatter as I filled the feeders. They hung out on the fence, in the trees and on the ground. I have become invisible to them, I think, which I quite like. If I could train the colorful house wren to perch on my shoulders, I’d really be quite content.
I think I saw a rabbit in my yard late one night when I returned home but it hopped so fast when the car light hit it I couldn’t be certain; perhaps it was just a skittish fat cat.
But along Holiday Ranch Loop Road, right off the highway and just past the Peaks Hotel, I slowed down due to the nearly finished (and most impressive) sidewalk project. Where the McLeod Creek Trail crosses the road and heads over to the new park and fire station, I always slow down because there is almost always a walker/ jogger/ dog/ biker coming across the road. But on this evening, right about nightfall, there was no one on the road. Still I slowed by habit and looked both directions. On the park side, stepping right out of the camouflage, was suddenly a big buck deer. He was just standing there giving me A Look. I slowed way, way down and acknowledged his gift and hoped the car behind me would have a glimpse as well. But the car was now honking at me. Who honks in Park City? In a subdivision? At the end of the day? I mean, really.
The week wound itself up again and I was soon buried under papers and work and projects. I was distracted and a little miffed at myself for bringing so much work home, so I wandered downstairs to put the tea kettle on around 7 or 8. When I saw movement in the yard, at first I didn’t turn. There are lots of dogs at large in our neighborhood. But this large shape was headed right for the birdfeeder. A doe, a great big doe, was in the yard and took her time wandering from feeder to feeder, nuzzling the corners and tipping the houses until they kinda poured down her throat. I just stood, frozen, listening with every fiber in my being to her gentleness.
She had a bit of a saunter as she moved from feeder to feeder. She was so huge and her eyes were so huge and she was so close to my house and the night was so still. Time stopped. Which I think was the point. I have no idea how long I watched her. Then a car came speeding around the corner with its lights on bright. The deer was between me and the street but there is a large evergreen tree at the edge of my yard. She moved just slightly to position herself between me and the tree. The car passed. The doe looked up at me with an unblinking gaze. I whispered to her through the glass. It was gratitude for her visit.
She took the prayer with her as she as she slowly walked around to the back of the house and off, I suspect, to someplace along McLeod Creek.
It is winter’s approach here as the snow starts to cover the mountains and the woodpile. In a resort community it means we rush around more and more, while in nature things slow down. The lesson just might be balance for this 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.