Teri Orr: A blustery time…
Sunday in the Park
Park Record columnist
The invitation, to watch the sunset on the deck of the new home with the fabulous views in upper, upper Park Meadows, was one to say yes to. The lovely host and hostess ,the groaning board of cheeses and cured meats and tiny pickles, was delicious. And the pressed linen napkins — just so.
The deck, overlooking a sea of wildflowers artfully, selected and blooming in sync — the red poppy, the purple something-something and the small-faced, black-eyed Susans. With boxes of lavender — and rosemary for remembrance — you knew you in an Irish home. The conversation was that banter which comes from very smart people who don’t need to drop bon mots alongside homemade meringues. They just converse in a language where the arts are far more a staple than politics.
But there came a point when the discussion was drowned out by the whipping wind and micro bursts of rain. In the distance were the flashes of lightning. And it was all I could do to be polite and go inside with the others but I really, really wanted to stay on that porch with glass railings and ride out the storm.
When I was maybe six, I stayed at my Irish grandmother’s beach house in Oceanside, California. A little three-story cottage, about a mile from the pier. She had a lime-green leather couch pushed up against the large plate-glass window and when storms came up on the ocean you could see the spray on the window. All around the weather would weather away. My grandmother always made storms an adventure and I don’t remember ever being frightened by thunder or lightning It was thrilling. It still is.
The very modern home looked nothing like my grandmother’s cottage but still I was there in the moment. The view, of course, wasn’t of the fierce darkness of the roiling ocean but rather the most expansive view of these mountains I have ever seen from anywhere in town. And it was as if the landscape rearranged itself. A straight view from the Canyons to Deer Valley with Park City Mountain, the seamless middle piece. The ski runs were all green and trees flanked the runs.
As the evening grew darker, the flashes of lightning grew more brilliant. The conversation continued over continents and counties and finally back to neighborhoods in 84060 and just how the current election may play out. We all had opinions and outcomes, scenarios — depending upon how the primary ends up this next week. If A is eliminated then Q, and K could knock out C, who really would be stronger than Z. It was the kind of parlor game one used to play more often.
But there were, too, discussions of how the landscape of entertainment is morphing and how we view, what we view, matters more. And these lovely, cultured, international citizens, care deeply, passionately, about all the ways we find beauty in the world, of course, but specifically in Our Town. They believe arts and culture define what a community values and they are encouraged by recent developments. They feel more spaces and places for art means more variations on a theme. Or a myriad of themes.
And I was engaged in the conversation. I was more than in my wheelhouse. It is part and parcel to the very core of my life’s work. Still, I was distracted.
Mother Nature was putting on a show and I was traveling back in time. Though the actual event of the sun setting had happened amid the storm, in terms of time of day, the landscape outside seemed time-suspended. It was dark and stormy, of course, until the sky lit up and then the full panorama of those mountains, hugging the town would be on display. No sound-and-light show, no art exhibit, no filmmaker’s special effects are ever as spectacular as a fierce summer storm. Out on the deck, leaves were being stripped from trees and bouncing round and the thunder rattled the windows. I was both there in the lovely modern home and on the couch at a beach house, chin in hands, watching the storm play out on the ocean. It could be a split screen shot or flashback in a film, but I forced myself to remember it was my life in real time. And the evening went back and forth like that, in the conversation on topics that I love to debate and out again, to the cottage on the ocean. That ability to time travel in place.
I don’t think my hosts had any idea I was leaving the table in spirit and sneaking outdoors to be in the storm but I was. It was most pleasurable. When we took our leave, as the hour grew late, there were hugs and promises of more conversations about art and local politics and travels afar. I dashed in the rain to my car and looked out over the town I have loved now, more than half of my long life — it flashed bright again — ski runs and mountains around embracing the community. I might have seen the ocean crash quickly and spray my windshield. I thought too of the upcoming election how much weighs on the outcome. And I remember my friend who likes to say, local politics are entertainment in a small town. How my work and life seem to be a dance right now and I was comfortable with it. It all seemed, as the Irish would say… right as rain.
Once more, I was grateful I beached up here in the 1970s to a life filled with art and politics and spectacular scenery that all deserves protection and preservation. I hope those who can vote, do vote this week. The story ahead needs good actors and sailors and stewards of all that is precious all days, starting with Sunday, in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
$110.7 million could be spent on doing a lot more good than just the acquisition of a Monet, Tom Clyde writes.