Sunday in the Park
At the solstice party this week, where women of a certain age did our part to bang drums and howl at the moon and invite another season to allow us to release something and be open to new things, a woman I know — from down valley — who has a granddaughter about the same age as mine, was telling a sweet story. The child calls her grandmother by her given name, let’s say, Rosemary. And they were having a discussion about summer solstice when her granddaughter asked her with all the innocence and intensity of a six year old, "So, Rosemary, what did you feed the fairies for dinner last night?" Her grandmother, a wise woman, asked why she would have fed the fairies last night. To which, her slightly exasperated granddaughter replied, "Because everyone knows you feed the fairies the night before solstice." And though I have been part of a group of women who have celebrated with powerful enthusiasm both the winter and summer solstices for years, I had never heard a word about feeding the fairies. It turns out neither had anyone else.
So amid the perfect potluck, where clever women brought foods we all enjoyed — there was not a Jell-O mold in sight — there was, at one table, a bit of conversation about the feeding of fairies. What would they eat? If they had all the treats of nature available to them all year, what would be special? Chocolates? Ice cream? Foods you don’t find in the forest. These are professional, college-degreed women. A smattering of doctors and therapists and businesswomen and women of The Majority, who enjoy stepping away from doctrine now and again. We came to no definitive conclusion.
But somehow from there, we moved to a discussion about favorite letters. Not correspondence, mind you, but letters of the alphabet. There were some votes for "Z," of course, and "X." There was a woman who had a first and middle name starting with "A," who confessed she loved "her" letter. I was stumped. I have to admit in my whole long life, I’m not certain I’ve ever thought about a favorite letter.
Then the breeze died down and the fire was crackling and we gathered in a circle to drum and move the energy of spring into the strong energy of summer. A quarter moon appeared in a darkened sky and the stars on queue, emerged slowly. The ancient, primal nature of the ceremony made me feel in tune with centuries of women who have honored the change of seasons, with respect and awe and responsibility. This season of summer is to be enjoyed and not squandered as another series of workdays strung together until the weekend.
I have had a handful of lunch meetings this week and whenever I am asked where I’d like to eat, I always answer the same way — outside. There are restaurants from Prospector to Main that feature dining outdoors and why wouldn’t I want to be there on these perfect summer days?
And though everything that can be in bloom and therefore allergenic, is out right about now, it is so picture perfect I don’t want to miss a sneezing moment of it.
The traditional Park City start to summer was held last weekend when the Historical Society held their home tour and dinners. Another perfect night, where guests strolled along Park Avenue like swells, and dined in homes where friendly spirits reminded us, we are here for just a time and however important we all fashion ourselves today, these folks of yesteryear were truly committed to surviving hardships to carve out a community.
The following day, a new event broke out and the promised rain stayed away, so the Sunday Market could emerge. (I can’t call it by its given name it is just too silly for me.) But the idea, from a couple of far-from-crone-age women, was an instant hit. An eclectic market of produce and cupcakes and purses and hats and ceramics and artwork and snow cones and sushi and sling-back chairs, it was just plain fun. The guy on stilts making balloon animals was a hit, ditto the painted lady who burst into opera along the street, and the cowboy accordion player made me think of Dusty and Lefty from "Prairie Home Companion." The gentlewomen of Hell’s Backbone Grill made it up from Boulder, Utah, with amazing cookies and granola and organic herbs from their desert farm. Park City folks I hadn’t seen in ages were strolling along the quarter Miracle Mile of Lower Main, taking time to really visit with one another. The bike valet service provided by Cole Sport was just right for the latest rash of geezers on cruisers big tire bikes.
I say that, because I joined that club last weekend and bought the first bike I have actually purchased for myself in my life. It has only three speeds and the brakes are what you get when you back pedal. Mayor Dana received one for a Father’s Day present and he and I were getting adjusted, wait, our bikes were getting adjusted, at Cole Sport at the same time after the market had ended. I rode home to Park Meadows along the Poison Creek trail and then in the gutters of a pathway past the Racquet Club to my house. The bike is so oversized and silly, I had a grin on my face the entire time.
And last night, driving home, when I turned the corner and spotted my house, I found myself smiling again. The little solar, glow-in-the-dark lights I had found in a gardening catalog were, in fact, glowing in the dark. The ones planted along the stone pathway showed me the way to the front door. The one in the crabapple tree gave a glow to the front flowerbed. And out in back, where four globes sit in stones amid the peonies and the blackberry vines, under the shadow of the Japanese maple tree, I squinted a bit. I swear I saw tiny winged creatures with tiny flower teacups in their tiny hands flutter away when I tiptoed out to inspect.
Ah, well, let the fairies have their parties in the twilight. I suspect they have been gathering around these parts long before the rest of us came along. I am content to sit on the porch for a spell, listen to the games of young children and the songs of finches and doves and enjoy this season of letting go. I’m thinking about adding another accessory to my bike, it already has a bell and the wicker basket made for Toto. I’m thinking maybe a playing card stuck in the spokes but perhaps I’ll wait until fall to add that much excitement. Keeping it simple is the gift of these summer Sundays in the Park
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Arlene Loble served as the Park City manager in the 1980s, a pivotal period that prepared the community for the boom years that would follow in the 1990s. Loble, who recently died, is credited with introducing a level of professionalism to the municipal government that was needed amid the growth challenges.