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Sunday in the Park

This time of year, when the sun gets up, so do I. This is not a natural state for me but in the summer, rising early is a gift I give myself. It is quiet and still, other than the morning songs of so many birds. Generally speaking, there is no wind and no movement. Mornings in the mountains in summer are so pristine as to be sacred.

I brew a cup of tea and head to the back porch to quietly meditate on the day ahead. I try very hard to absorb vast amounts of peace and quiet and sweet bird songs before I head out to work.

At work, the days rush past, there is much to do and, in the long hours of daylight, somehow we are motivated to do even more. Lunches are taken outdoors at restaurants or simply on the benches behind our offices. Ditto meetings. Anytime we can meet, say outside on the mountain or in any park instead of an office building, we do.

When the workday ends there are still hours of light left. A walk around the block, the long way. A chance to plant a few more pansies. A spirited pick-up game of outdoor ping pong. Neighborhood children to throw balls to and answer "why" questions, over and over again because when it is someone else’s child, that questioning is charming. And a chance to porch sit and talk of the little things, which, when pieced together, make up the fabric of a life.

On the longest day of the year — summer solstice — when over at Stonehenge, good pagans and others were celebrating with enthusiasm, the day stretched out to magical proportions. Tea and toast were followed by some quick plantings in the yard. I had a conversation with my plants and explained we needed to work together to create a colorful yard. They should not interpret my lack of regular watering as a sign of neglect. I, in turn, will try to dead head the tired flowers on a regular basis to encourage new growth as Ron Butkovich, gardener extraordinaire, taught me years ago. If, in the sweet, short time known as summer, animals need to eat the plants, that is fine with me. Or children picking the flowers, also just fine. After all, the chance to turn bleeding hearts upside down and into "ladies in the bathtub" is one of those magical discoveries that I find brings joy to children of all ages. And yes, later in the summer, when the hollyhocks are full, we will make them into dolls with full skirts.

The solstice workday raced by. Projects were completed. A long meaningful business lunch took place outside on the deck at Café Terigo. My computer worked without incident. By 5:30, I was happily wandering the Farmers Market, satchel in hand, gathering greens and berries and of course, that fabulous Voelker bread. I pulled into my driveway just as a familiar car was pulling up in front of my house. A dear friend, who I hadn’t seen in months because of our crazy schedules, decided to just stop by and see if I was home.

We went straight to the back porch, where for two decades now, we have sat and solved (and occasionally created) problems. She is a picture of health and, after her run in with breast cancer, that speaks volumes. Her new job, with a national title, keeps her busy in several states. Her husband adores her, her adult children are happy and she exudes a kind of peace that comes from challenges overcome. The sun, on that longest of days, set as we talked and the twilight tip-toed onto the porch, until finally, when the stars appeared one by one, we declared it, A Night.

Nights, in Park City in the summer, too, are a gift. They cool to perfect sleeping weather so windows and doors can be open to sounds and smells and gentle breezes that lull us into a seamless kind of sleep. Somewhere, years ago, I read a quote that said, "Faith is the bird that sings before dawn." Or something like that. And around 4:30 in the morning, at least in my neighborhood, those faith-filled birds start anticipating a new day. I wake, I sleep, I wake, I sleep, until the sun starts to fill the room and the aspens that form a kind of leafy curtain outside my window are lit by that great first light and I think I might miss something if I don’t get right up and celebrate the day. And then the pattern repeats. Tea, toast, a walk around the garden. Until before long, the white noise of the neighborhood and the city waking up, becomes the soundtrack to my shower.

Here’s the other thing I try hard to do in the summer — keep the feeling I am on vacation, in my own backyard. I try to go on a bit of a news-fast. The Sunday New York Times excluded of course, but that really is all I need to know in the summertime. Right now is the time to nourish friendships that have hibernated, one hopes, during the insanity we call winter. Time for long walks and slow talks and laughter that spreads like morning glories in the yard. Time to be still, and active. Quiet, and boisterous. Unwrap the gift of a summer day and cherish its magic. Which works on any day but certainly on this very Sunday, in the Park


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