Sunday in the Park
May 26, 2007
The first light of day showed the wind whipping the trees. The raven was announcing the morning, "caw, caw, caw," breaking the silence. I crawled out of bed, threw on some sweats and headed up the rocky path outside my room to the top of the red rock cliff where the labyrinth lay. The archetypal pattern, found in ancient cultures around the world, is a concentric, circular path with no dead ends. Labyrinths on the ground date back 5,000 years and have been used for both ceremony and meditation. The day promised to be a mix of both and so I entered the path as the sun broke over the red rock cliff, just outside Zion National Park, the day Ginger would wed Matt.
Over the course of the next hour, I watched others from Park City, who had made the journey south for the nuptials, make their way up to the red rock plateau to walk the labyrinth. We exchanged nods, maybe as much as a mumbled "morning" but little more. The wind continued to blow and raven continued, "caw, caw, caw."
By the time noon rolled around for the ceremony inside The Park, in a beautiful amphitheater surrounded by pines and red rock towers, where the north fork of the Virgin River flows, the wind had died down completely. The raven, such a powerful bird of omens in the Native American culture had been replaced by the western meadowlark and the house finch and the red winged blackbird. They provided music as the guests gathered and were given both parasols and mimosas simultaneously.
And the guests, ah, what a marriage of Park City personalities. Both Ginger and Matt had worked in the food business for years. And Matt more recently in construction and Ginger more recently in non-profits. So the mimosa makers were Paula from the old Morning Ray and Stephani, baker extraordinaire from Windy Ridge Bakery. Back on the grass were the brothers V, Kevin and Robert from Shabu, and Ed from Terigo (with a nod to his son Travis’ place, Purple Sage) brought two of his beautiful daughters, Katie and Carly along. The artistic community was represented by Roger, the jeweler, who created their wedding bands, who has had a ranch in these parts for more than a decade. John, who works in wood and metal and canvas, sketched a quick draw of the ceremony itself. Karen, who owns a gallery on Main Street; Katie, who was shooting photos all day and night.
Longtime Ginger buddy, Shelly was there and filmmaker M.G. and Kimberly of the new Park Silly Market. Standing sentinel for the bride, was none other than Chief Lloyd. The proper planning of weighting down the white fabric path with rocks and branches had been under the thoughtful direction of Marsac Hall staffers, Brooks and Phyllis. Guitar player Tony started in, and professional organizer Renee started us singing, "This little light of mine."
The attendants took their places and stood ready for the ceremony. They included old friends, like John and Saul and Grant and Paul for Matt and his son, Joshua, and even long ago Park Record reporter, Alex. For the bride, her sister Joy, Matt’s sister Kim, longtime friend Stacia, Summit County planning commissioner Claudia, and Deer Valley Resort vice president Coleen, and Squatter’s beer maker extraordinaire Jenny. Mayor Dana took the space between the attendants. The radiant bride floated in with her two children, Quinn and Chloe, prepared not to give her away but to share her. I think it was around the time Dana was giving the Apache Blessing "Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter to one another now, you are two bodies, but there is only one life before you " it was right around then, I think, the groom the started to tear up.
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By the time Dana asked Matt if he did, and Matt said I do, Dana had started to cry. So when he asked Ginger if she did, her tearful reply was so muffled, Dana looked out to all of us and reported, She does. After much cheering and embracing we left The Park and a tiny family of deer bid us adieu. All appeared right with nature and at least for this day, with the nature of man.
The reception took place hours later, down by the river on a thick carpet of grass that led to a sandy beach. Kids played and swam and grownups caught up with old, old friends they had lost touch with. Because Ginger and Matt have old, old friends — from slightly different but complementary tribes. And to see someone from the past like Todd, who had chained himself to a backhoe all those years ago, to protest the building of the Kmart, was to remember the way we were. So we talked a little politics because it is a language we have always spoken. We caught up on kids and kids with kids and accomplishments that should go noticed. Like Amy, daughter of Ed and Debbie, who you know from serving you all those meals at Terigo and Purple Sage. Amy is now going to serve her residency as a doctor at Harvard. Claudia’s husband, Tim is working on the lens, which will replace the Hubble telescope, right here in Utah. And in a personal best, along with my grandson Tyler, I caught a tree frog, showed it off and let it go.
The meal served to the more than 150 friends who had gathered, included the groom’s magical chicken mole, this time made with help from his bride. Think, "Like Water for Chocolate," because when we ate that mole, we all laughed and declared it the finest mole ever. It was spicy and sweet and rich, yet simple, and everyone went back for seconds. And we kept talking and laughing and toasting and soaking our feet in the river, long into the night.
When I got back to my lodging, where the wait staff in the restaurant and the front desk clerk had all served time in Park City, I pulled out a chair and sat for spell on the deck. The night sky was a kind of indigo black and both Dippers were visible. And Cassiopeia, which I can rarely spot but couldn’t miss this night. It had been a magical day. A day when over and over again, friends of either the bride or groom would say, I’m so glad he/she found him/her. Two people who have taken different paths in and around Park City found their way to the loving arms of each other. And those of us who traveled the distance to share in their union now have a responsibility after bearing witness. Bill Coleman used to say he never understood why people said, "Congratulations" at weddings. Anyone can get married, he observed, it’s the staying married that is the trick. So, we will support them and shelter them and as the Apache blessing says, we will hold them in our hearts with the prayer that your days be good and long upon the earth.
It was an honor to bear witness to such a ceremony. It was a window in time and a gathering of tribes that will long be cherished as the weekend Parkites gathered to celebrate out of the city but shared together a Sunday in The Park, nonetheless
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