Sunday in the Park
You can feel the air thick with it. I know — you’ve been rubbing your eyes for days now and feeling a bit stuffy.
But pollen is just evidence of the process.
The other day, when I came home after work — in that delicious place, this time of year, when the sun is still sending warmth and keeping sunlight around for a few more hours — I did my walkabout of the yard. All the snow has finally melted, even the last piles in the shade under the trees. The man who helps me with these things had been by that afternoon and raked up all the debris of winter. And suddenly the trees and bushes and flowers not yet opened all seemed to be humming. This is the week of springtime anticipation.
Living in the mountains, you learn it is all weather dependent, not calendar driven. And for one week there is a great explosion, in a matter of days, when aspen trees change from bare branches in the morning to being covered with green buds by the afternoon. The tulips open. The lilac bush is dotted with dark purple and unfolds to a rich lavender. The crocuses were a preseason sacrifice. The daffodils were the advance team last week. The real show will happen any day now when the flowering crabapple trees open their cotton-candy-pink blooms and the apple tree her sweet, white, flowering branches.
Last Friday night, I dropped over to a friend’s house and three of us sat outside for hours, catching up and enjoying the view and the warmth. Their deck was built by the architect in the family, who designed the high perch at roof level. This gives one a terrific view of the Park Meadows "valley" and puts one higher up to face the mountains.
I had a hard a week and I didn’t bother to go home and "get presentable." With dear friends it is actually an affront when you feel a need not to be natural, whatever that means to your circle. In my case it meant, in part, that my curly, unruly hair resembled a nest of brown and gray.
We three were sitting around sharing stories, quietly, when I heard a fluttering over my head. "Stay still," my friend urged. "Stay very still." Not knowing what was happening but trusting her advice, as always, I didn’t move. And then I felt something land on my head. It was a light, slight feeling, the weight of wings. A goldfinch had decided my nest hair looked like a good place to sit for a spell. My friends were wordless for the few minutes I was a perch. It was only when one of them thought of going inside to grab a camera that the bird fluttered away.
That moment has stayed with me all week.
On Sunday, when my little family came up to visit, I was regaling The Grands with my story. When I finished, the nine-year-old said, "Cool, Oma!" The seven-year-old said, "Wow, Oma!" The six-year-old boy got to the point: "Did the bird poop on your head?" All the adults laughed at the obvious question. I realized at that moment it would have made for a much better story for the under-10 set. I confessed the bird did no such thing. He/she just paid me a visit and left. The kids nodded and moved into the next room to play with toys.
And now I sit outside in the early evening, the time that Bonnie Raitt croons is "the dimming of the day," and wait to be "discovered" again. I pat the crown of my head as if I am preparing a landing field and I remember how those few ounces felt resting on me. People who like to read something into anything would use this experience as a kind of nature-related tarot-card message. My Irish grandmother would have six superstitions related to it, I’m certain. Naturalists would most likely brush it off as "a regular occurrence among yellow birds that travel in the southwest region from April until August" or some such unemotional scientific narrative.
I’m gonna take it as a gift. And I don’t need to know the origin. But I do think I need to express my gratitude. And this weekend, when the air is filled with the promise and anticipation of spring popping out in Technicolor, I will look with new eyes at the goldfinches at my feeders. Was it you? Or you? And I will wordlessly send them all a prayer of thanks for the visit. And make certain I send the message my messy nest is available for visitors any day, including this very Sunday in the Park …
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the foundation that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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The Alpine Slide was a hit, so, why not try something a little more… extreme? Enter: Down The Tube.