Teri Orr: The sounds of winter arriving
November 22, 2013
Here’s what I forget every year: how quiet the first serious snowfall makes Park City. It softens and buffers the street noise. Visually, it makes all things equal and many things magical. A piece of yard art can look otherworldly. A pine tree now looks related to an aspen with both of them dressed in the same white robe. And just the railing on the porch with white icing matching the roof, all looks frosted with the same confection.
The cars all stopped along the main road out of town are snow-covered and bug-eyed. They look like some strange invertebrate creature winking and creeping ever-so-gently along. On the opposite side of the road, headed into town, are singular creatures, snow covered too, but moving with slow freedom from lane to lane.
Along my street, never the first to get plowed to pavement, it is an envelope of white-trees, roof tops, porches, lawns and the road. And like a cat, the car feels rather stealth-like creeping quietly home.
Somewhere in the hours since I left my home and returned, a neighbor (I am never certain which one) has come and shoveled my walk and driveway. There is a path now, where there was none.
More than once, in the evening, until I grow used to it all over again, there will be flashing lights in my living room or bedroom windows and I will leap up, thinking some of sort of emergency vehicle has stopped in front of my home. But then, I remember the amber lights are the snow plow, clearing the road of the newest inches of snowfall.
I am still unpacking the sweaters and the heavy boots. It was an extended fall and there was little need early on for all the winter gear. The gloves and mittens are still missing, carefully stored someplace related, no doubt. But the piece of winter gear I am happiest to see again is rather mundane — an ice scraper/snow brush. I would say it is the Rolls Royce of such brushes but you would see right away that isn’t so. Clearly the BMW logo stands out on the handle.
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I’ve never owned a BMW vehicle. Nor leased one. I have ridden in my friends great rides with envy but the car has always been outside my income level. The year the Eccles Center opened, 1998, and Sundance moved in for the very first time, a week after the opening, their major sponsor was BMW. Great folks, based in Los Angeles who had come up while the building was still in the construction phase and toured the space and then we had a picnic at Rotary Park. They loved the idea of becoming one of our first donors and gave us a donation to purchase name plaques on twenty seats, in what would become everyone’s favorite row, J. They parked a fancy new SUV out front. Each day of the festival the music students were tasked with brushing the snow off. The company then made a generous donation to the high school music program, in appreciation.
For the special official Sundance vehicles, they came equipped with these amazing snow scrapers/brushes that had long, really long, maybe two feet long, handles. They were black and sleek with firm bristles and a solid, serious scraper. I coveted the brush. The woman in charge of such things, Carole, was so happy with their placement and experience, she told me the car in front of our building didn’t need to be returned for another week. It was mine, she said. For the week.
I immediately took my days off and drove up to Huntsville, to my quiet place, at the monastery. There, the monks let me stay in their guest house and locked me into their snowy world, behind the heavy gate each night. By day I would drive up canyons and down lanes and take photos and pretend I wasn’t running away from a bad relationship and broken heart. And each morning, when another foot of snow had fallen on the beautiful car, I would take out that sturdy, long-handled brush and happily, clean off "my car."
The week passed quickly. When the time came to drive to Salt Lake City and return the car to the dealership there, I transferred everything from the BMW into my sturdy Subaru wagon. As I was handing the keys to the salesman I asked a favor, Could I possibly keep the snow scraper? He looked at me like it was the strangest request he had ever heard. I waited for him to explain that it was an accessory not for sale and needed to stay with the vehicle. Instead, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "Sure, if you want."
I was elated.
And though there was an entire year I thought I had lost it for certain (it had fallen behind the shovels and into the wood pile ), it was found. I have been through four cars since then. Three grandchildren have joined my world. My hair has grey um, highlights. The snow boots from that winter and the mittens and the parka are long, long gone. Ditto the broken heart. I have lost dozens of earrings and car keys and too many cell phone cords to count. But somehow, somehow, the scraper has stayed.
Last night was the first time I used it for the season. In one great, long-handled whoosh the snow flew off the rear window. And I smiled to myself. Winter is officially here again. And I am grateful to still be here to celebrate its return, this 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.