This weekend is — in most of states — the traditional start of summer. In Park City — we know it is still too early to plant most things. It’s a sucker’s game. Plant now and watch the weather snap and freeze those plants overnight. But after this winter of much discontent and whiteness — the urge to throw caution to the wind — along with a handful of seeds — is strong.
I spent my 20s living in Lake Tahoe year-round … on the lake mostly. I didn’t understand my good fortune since I was mostly raising two young children and running my own children’s clothing store. More than half that time I was married — the other parts — I was making up for having been married at 19. When Memorial Day came around it was OFFICIALLY summer. Even though no one was going into the ice cold water of that deep clear lake until July 4th — at the earliest.
Still, the marinas opened and long-legged girls in the shortest of shorts started tanning in earnest on the decks of their (daddy’s) boats. We would buy flower baskets and watch them freeze overnight and then we would buy them again. The folks from San Francisco would come up and open their summer homes on Memorial weekend and not close them until after Labor Day. Like lots of resort communities — we were two different crowds from winter to summer — and one very, very short growing season.
So you think I would have learned from the ’70s until now — Memorial weekend in any two-season resort town is NOT the time to declare it SUMMER! But alas — there are too many pent-up frustrations — especially this year — pushing us to throw caution to the wind and buy the flat of flowers — oh hell, buy two.
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Which is what I did last weekend in anticipation of this one. I have some seeds to dig into the dirt — those should be safe enough. And my daughter gave me a hanging basket for Mother’s Day with fuchsias as part of the mix — I bring that in each night. Still, the flats of pansies and stock and some funny little purple flowers that I have no name for — are acclimating outside — under the pine tree mostly so they can toughen up to hit the dirt this weekend and take roots.
And the seeds — some are new herbs to join the returning mint and oregano and chives and lavender and thyme. Most of the thyme I planted more than a decade ago and it weaves between the funky rock patio that was created by someone who needed a job that summer and assured me she had laid lots of rocks before. The thyme grows in to cover the gaps from rock to uneven rock. And the bees love it — along with the lavender bushes. If money were no object — there are so many ways to finish this sentence but I’ll stay in the garden — I would tear up my entire lawn and plant clover and thyme and lavender for the bees but really for me to enjoy. It would save water and mowing and be so friendly to the planet. I would but … making good decisions is often determined by the economics of one’s life.
At the end of this particular merry month of May I am concerned about the unintentional seeds we are planting and our ability to spring back and fully grow after the force-of-nature snap we have endured for nearly three months. We are all eager to get back to our routines and businesses and life as we knew it. Momma not only wants new shoes — she wants a reason and a place to wear them.
But here’s my fear — we’re gonna go large and mess this up. We’re saying we are strong and we can flip a switch and work hard and return our economy and life will return to what we used to know and be and have.
Only it won’t.
We have entered a new marker of time — like after 9/11. I am never running to the gate to catch a plane like O.J. Simpson and neither are you. (And neither is O.J. but that is a different set of conversations). The concerts with thousands of people outdoors standing hip to hip screaming and passing bodies overhead — probably goes the way of smoking on a plane. The crowded movie theater, the packed church on high holy days, the market with unlimited shoppers and no face masks, all probably goes the way of tossing your beer cans out the windows of your car while you light up another cigarette. We are living in the change twilight zone. We are clear about all the before stuff and we are inconvenienced by the now stuff and we are completely unsure about what tomorrow means.
I think it means we use this time to plant the seeds of new behaviors that give us the essence of those things we have loved — the music, the dance, the arts in all forms. The church congregation celebrating the high holy days and the passages of humans from birth to marriage to confirmation to death — and we do so still with dignity and grace.
We need to remind ourselves because every day there is a measure and new story about the radical climate changes that are increasing at an alarming rate — that our planet is sick, very, very sick, and it shows all the signs of being pretty unhappy with the humans that infected it — on so many levels.
We know too much to go back to just wishing away a pandemic or global climate change.
So this weekend — when we will hopefully distance and share a toast with close family and maybe later a close — socially distanced friend — we need to think about the veterans of all the wars, including this one. And if you are at loss of who to toast — remember the current heroes we want to become successful veterans of this — the first responders, the health care workers, the grocery store clerks, the garbage collectors, the educators, the farmers, the faith leaders, the social workers and all the rest. Let’s plant hope this weekend any day maybe Sunday, in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the founder and director emeritus of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.