Sunday in the Park
July 20, 2012
The dog days of summer just may have been in June this year.
It was June with her relentless heat that scorched the grass and made us understandably fearful of wildfires. And a bit cranky. July, well, she has turned out to be rather lush: sunny mornings, afternoon and evening thundershowers. Rosy sunsets. The bounty of fresh produce everywhere. Ripe tomatoes and cherries and fresh snap peas that emerged earlier than usual. Sweet strawberries and wildflowers because/despite the heat of June.
I have entered the personal/work season where weekdays and weekends don’t follow normal cycles and workdays begin early and end long after the sun has set and the stars have twinkled into the blackened sky. It takes some getting used to, after having weeks that begin and end like regular folks’ for months now. But now, it is rare to have two days off in a row and they are seldom on a weekend.
So one day maybe your Tuesday I dress as if it is Saturday and I head out to do yard work. Which is fine if I am headed out to do yard work and slightly strange if I am at the post office and, say, you are headed to a business meeting and I am headed to Park City Nursery.
I eat so differently and better, really, in the summer. I use the produce of the week and meals come together based around those cucumbers or carrots or summer squash that have appeared at the farmer’s market just days before. I eat more bread because it is fresh and easily available and needed to mop up salad dressings I have made from scratch. The berries for breakfast are often paired with another sweet bread available locally only in the summer. My morning tea is taken outdoors at my beloved picnic table every chance I get.
I fill the birdfeeders often in the hour just as the sun sets and leaves streaks of color swiped across the sky. That magical time the Scottish call "in the gloaming," where the trees start out still green against the sky and then turn to black silhouettes until their color and sky meld into one darkened night.
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When I sleep on these nights where I am off work the following weekday, I feel a bit like I am playing hooky. And I sleep so well with windows open to nocturnal noises and breezes. And I dream. Dreams that are lush, like high-definition paintings in vibrant colors, with some of my favorite people, those I actually know and those I wish I did. There are long walks on pristine, deserted beaches that turn into lush forests with adult tree houses. Laughter and conversations about ways be supportive of creative people.
I resist the morning light.
Most day-off mornings, the world has been awake long before me. The sun is fully up and there are morning shadows on the trees. If I have done my part and filled the feeders, I am rewarded with birdsongs.
On days when I do work on the same cycle as others, I try to eat outside. Sometimes in restaurant cafés under umbrellas. Sometimes I grab a sandwich and sneak away to a park Rotary Park always being my default. It is almost always quiet and shady and the little creek that gurgles over rocks and under weathered wooden step bridges is the just right musical accompaniment.
I’m not certain if global warming is the reason, or altered migration patterns, or fate, but you must have noticed the profusion of butterflies this summer. Big beautiful creatures with multi-colored wings taking slow laps over flowers and lingering over café tables just like the diners. Tiny, bright-colored, winged wisps that flutter by a conversation in such a way to cause everyone to smile and admire their flight. Of all the years I have lived in Park City, which number more than 30 now, I am certain there have never been so many butterflies. It is as if someone opened a net filled with these joyful interruptions and set them on their way in town. Day after day.
I understand there are issues everywhere. Building and zoning concerns. The welfare of those who struggle. The education of the adults who need to shape the education of the children. Water concerns and public-safety concerns. I focus on those often. I try to do my part to be an informed and contributing citizen. I do.
But for a few weeks, I sigh often in unexpected moments and they are sighs of joy. Of respect. Occasionally awe, tinged with wonder. Summers in this town are the reward for all the other seasons that aren’t always perfect but without slugging through which you might not have the full measure of gratitude for this all-too-short season.
And the truth is, just as in the depths of light-limited winter, I actually cherish my upside-down schedule. It allows me forces me, honestly to see with fresh eyes and stretch my chores to fit around my leisure. I visit with stay-at-home neighbors and I delight in the nothingness of a lazy summer afternoon. It is more than fine with me that my Tuesday may actually be your Sunday, in the Park …
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the organization that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.