Amy Roberts: The calm between Park City’s storms
Winters in Park City are not known for their downtime. There are storms and powder days, holiday weekends, galas and parties, fundraisers, concerts, special events, and an endless parade of houseguests hoping to participate in at least one of the above.
Never a dull moment during ski season. That’s how we roll.
Despite knowing this, despite preparing and bracing for the go-go-go hectic chaos, somehow, just how busy the town gets always seems to catch me off guard. It happens when the grocery store is out of my favorite bread, or there’s a two-hour wait at my normally walk-in ready pedicure shop, or when an app on my phone tells me it’s going to be 37 minutes before a driver can come fetch me. I don’t notice the busyness, or even mind it really, until I’m suddenly inconvenienced by it.
And even when that happens, there’s an internal acknowledgment that this is what I signed up for when I decided to live in a resort town. Granted, Park City today is not the Park City I signed onto and moved to so many years ago. But even back then, it was the idea that I would have to put forth some real effort to be bored here that drew me in.
I can’t pinpoint the exact date or even the year, but somewhere between my moving here and now, Park City evolved from a relaxed, PBR-drinking ski bum to a Manhattan socialite with a busting-at-the-seams list of invites and a martini in each hand.
True evolution is typically a slow process — it took over a million years for whales to evolve from their land-dwelling mammalian ancestors. But every once in a while, nature speeds up the process.
In the late 1970s the Galapagos ground finch was under threat due to a severe drought. The birds with smaller beaks died off because the seeds they could crack open and eat were sparse. The finches with longer beaks had an advantage — they could crush larger seeds which were more plentiful during the drought. Hence, they survived, reproduced, and passed a big-beak gene along, changing the species in less than one decade.
Park City is a bit like this Galapagos ground finch. In order to survive, our beak grew fairly fast. And it seems even a bit longer this winter.
First there was Christmas. The Ikon and Epic crowds soon followed. The three-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend brought more tourists to town, quickly followed by the Sundance surge. Before the final curtain dropped, another one rose on the world’s greatest snow athletes who came to town for the FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeskiing World Championships. They’ll depart just as the President’s Day crowd arrives. We’ll have a week to catch our breath before Spring Break begins.
Even then, there will still be traffic and tourists and a general buzz, but it will be a welcome respite compared to what we just grew accustomed to. This small stretch will be our only calm between the storms — our one chance for the beak-growing to have a break.
It’s doubtful Charles Darwin had us in mind as he developed his theory of evolution; but his famous quote about survival is certainly applicable:
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
Park City is changing, and those of us who call it home must adapt.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
“Even the dogs were celebrating the reemergence of the sun.”