Sunday in the Park
June 4, 2010
I think the livable space of my home doubled over this past weekend. There are new found but familiar comfy chairs and sturdy tables and ornamentation and accessories that have been hidden for months. The new little groupings, as they like to say in the world of decorating, are now located in familiar places, the willow chairs are tucked under the Japanese maple on the carpet of reseeded green. The weathered teakwood dining table is balanced on the uneven patchwork stone deck that is stitched together with returning thyme. The porch swing is re-hung on, well, the porch, that needs sanding and more than a little love.
The ability to live outdoors is the real remodeling of behavior right now. Morning tea is taken on the front porch, watching the activity of the soon-to-flower, crabapple tree, the aspens, the large pine, and the birdfeeders that hang therein. Goldfinch, chickadees, flickers and the wayward mallards my neighbors have named Jack and Jill, dine with me.
That time at the end of the day when the sun has just set but the world is still light, that the Scottish call, in the glooming, I’m out back for that. The porch swing mostly, facing where the sun has left the sky. The-cul-du-sac. Where there is often a basketball game underway with multi-generational and gendered folks. Or a little bonfire in the island of land in the circle. Or other neighbors on porches in conversation who may or may not wander over to share a beverage and a story.
A few years ago I convinced my part-time neighbors of 25 years we should take down the fence between our homes. They agreed so long as I undertook the project. And I did. The newly exposed open space connected several yards then without interruption. After all those years of those neighbors coming up for one week in the summer and one week in the winter and never renting their home between, this spring they sold the house. Here in the ‘hood we have been most anxious to learn the fate of the tired old track house.
A builder showed up one day with heavy equipment and we watched the house become gutted. Insulation and rotted wood filled the dumpster and the neighborhood kids were gleeful at the new cool stuff that ended up being exposed with each passing day. The 1,400 square house was rumored to be growing to over twice its size. Which sounded, visually, a bit scary.
The call came when I was in California last month dealing with my mother’s health care issues. My good friend and neighbor had gone home for lunch and discovered, as Gertrude Stein is rumored to have said of Oakland all those years ago, "there is no there, there." My friend said the house next door me was now just a foundation. The unexpected, fully open space was a shock and she wanted to warn me before I arrived home late at night and found my new view.
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And it was/ is a shock. The builder says the new owners are folks from Southern California who have done other remodel flip projects in Park City and they intend to build this one and sell it as well. He told me a new fence was planned alongside my house along with dozens of feet of wood and glass appearing out by my porch where there was open space before.
I think I can say, as a group, we are happy the tired house will be having a new life. We are the oldest part of Park Meadows and none of us have ever known of a homeowners association or governing CC and R’s that define how we should look, collectively. Which I, for one, appreciate. I’m certain my purple house would have been the topic of endless heated meetings if we had to vote upon paint colors. But there is certainly an unspoken code where I live. We respect one another. Our privacy and our way of life. The lack of mowers starting too early on the weekend. Or chainsaws. Or loud music. Our yards can all find unexpected carrions of rocks from young explorers and tiny gatherings of sticks and leaves and found objects that create little altars everywhere. A certain freedom and pride of ownership that allows us to feel comfortable in pulling someone else’s garbage can in or pulling at the wayward weed in the yard not ours.
This promises to be a summer of complete disruption which we can only hope will result in a lovely new structure that will bring more interesting people to live in our neighborhood. It is a rather obvious reminder that change happens and sometimes all we can do is try to adapt. But we can hope that considerations will come into play as the transformation takes place that will be sensitive to the fragile warp and weave of the patterns of children and other wild life, indigenous to this place. And so the journey begins. While I will miss much of the day to dayness of the work, given my schedule, I will try to find time to absorb it all, from my place on the porch, most Sundays in the Park
Teri Orr is the director of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts and the Big Stars Bright Nights Summer Concert Series at Deer Valley. She is also a former editor of The Park Record.