Sunday in the Park
March 24, 2017
I have a sense I have been a wee bit cranky this week.
It started with the robin. I came home while it was still that lovely time of day where the sun had set but light was left.
I noticed, on the bare branches of my crabapple tree, which have been repeatedly pruned this winter by moose, a robin was sitting there. And it just seemed out of place. The robin, which brings me joy each spring, belonged on the lawn eating worms. In the morning light. And he should be fat. He looked so wrong on the barren tree. It was like a feral skinny kitten decided to sit on a branch. He looked out of time and place.
The next day I became aware I was biting off heads on the phone of people in distant states who were calling trying to get my business … Until I remembered, in the middle of one such call, I had asked those people to call me so I could do business.
I ripped off the plastic wrap to better smell the soap. It was flat and smooth and seamless in its color on one side. When I turned it over, I saw the impression of pale fingertip marks had been left on the back side.
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The sweet intern in my office offered to get me a Coke one afternoon and instead of thanking her I told her exactly which fast food emporium to visit for the sugary, brown, bubbly drink.
The oldish trees in our little neighborhood are precious — None of them existed here in the '70s when we moved in. After the storm this week I saw one had been pulled right from its roots and was laying on the ground. I was angry at …I don't know … Maybe the universe … But damn, a mature tree gone?
Yes, the politics of the day are embarrassing to any centrist American, let alone a liberal like me. My friends from some of the Magnificent Seven banned countries, who can no longer bring their computers on board to do work, are cancelling joining us at an annual conference. They anticipate not having their computer on board will be the least of the problems they encounter trying to visit here.
The weather, which had me running for my Allegra last week, has been grim. Wet and fake snowy. The stuff that clings for a few hours but doesn't really cover anything up for long.
And snow has nearly melted altogether in my yard. A lumpy patch still in shade, but the wet dark dirt has been revealed. And from that dirt are a handful of purple crocus and the green shoots that will be tulips if the deer don't eat all the tops off of them. The rocks I have accumulated from travels, in odd shapes, some in vibrant colors, are starting to emerge but they will need to be carved out of the thick layer of dirt settled on them.
When I walked in the front door last night, I noticed my friend had returned the little fancy carry-on bag I had loaned her. It was a gift to me and included near the handle of the bag is a built-in charging station for your phone or computer. Rather handy when you aren't in a place with a plug easily accessible and you need to charge up. I loaned her the bag because she was headed to the desert along the border in Arizona to do some powerful work with the immigrant community. She returned the bag and included in it was a bar of scented pink soap.
The wraparound pink paper described the soap and how to use it. "Lather to remove deeply imbedded impurities"…or leave it in a drawer "as a sachet." It described the Shea butter which was good for the skin and even "works well against stretch marks." And it stated the scent was "exctatic earthy". Then I saw the print at the bottom. The soap was created by "the hands of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration."
For the love of God! I said out loud to no one…Perpetual Adoration? That seems psychotic. Perpetual. Always always, all the time, adoring someone/thing all the time around the clock — adoring.
I ripped off the plastic wrap to better smell the soap. It was flat and smooth and seamless in its color on one side. When I turned it over, I saw the impression of pale fingertip marks had been left on the back side. So I took the matching fingers of my right hand and I set them in the impression that been left there. And then I inhaled the scented soap. I tried to imagine the woman who had crafted this bar. Had she joyfully toiled in a kitchen-like space and chatted with others while she added the color, the scent? Had she poured the liquid in a mold or had the bars once been one long sheet that were cut apart later?
And what was her name? Not her Sister name but her given name? Was it Louise or Esmeralda or Bertha ? And was the misspelled "ecstatic" her version of momentary, transcendent joy? And did/does perpetual adoration give you room for doubt? I decided to use the bar as more sachet than soap and I slept with it by my bed last evening. I had my most adventuresome dreams in months.
I woke to blue skies and sunlight hitting bare branches — now the palest shade of gray-green — hinting change is promised. And I have decided if someone has spent a life devoted and adoring in creating the simple work of a bar of soap, the least I can do is be more observant as the seasons change in a pace of their own. I will not likely become adoring, but I can aim at less cranky. Not every day, but starting this Sunday in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.