Teri Orr: Turn, turn, turn… | ParkRecord.com

Teri Orr: Turn, turn, turn…

Park Record columnist Teri Orr.

This is that weekend. At least, I think it might be. The one perfect fall weekend where the aspen trees are orange and yellow against the evergreens and the maples are red, and the slant of the light tells us the days are getting shorter. 

The return of the hot balloons last weekend was magical, with the committed folks from Autumn Aloft giving us all a spectacular free show, simply out of love for the community.

There are so many balloonists who have returned for years. I wish I knew how all of them were connected to our event. I just know the Prothro family has been dedicated to ballooning here for decades, bringing their balloons ( to all kinds of places and ) always here to Park City- whenever the conditions were right for the community.

They have multiple balloons, but perhaps the most memorable is their giant floating frog. Regardless of your age, he makes you giggle.

That fall of 1978, I came out to decide if I could leave Lake Tahoe and move to Utah. The place was magical. It snowed one night, and in the morning, all the tiny miner’s houses in Old Town, painted in bright colors, were covered in snow. And the trees that had been turning gold and red and orange were covered too. And then it all melted by noon.

I drove the dirt road that meandered up and over the backside of town to another tinier town. I later learned the road had the name, Guardsman’s Pass. The leaves were peaking, and I was peeping. I had one of those goofy space blankets in the car that looked like a roll of aluminum foil, and I unfolded it by a tiny lake there and fell asleep in the warm September sun.

I drove to the Homestead later, had a cup of tea and asked if I could borrow their phone- their landline with a long cord. I called back to Park City after reading the classified ads in the Park Record to see about renting a home to move my tiny family here, a very long ways away from our home in Lake Tahoe.

I wanted to come in the spring, and I found someone willing to meet with me about a maybe rental- five months into the future. The homeowner was thrilled someone might want to rent her empty house in the new subdivision of Park Meadows – a bunch of old ranch land where there were still a couple of small ranchettes. And maybe 20 homes based on three models. The fake Cape Cod, the fake Ranch, the fake porch wraparound. The roads were still dirt.

 On another day of that fall visit, I drove over the Alpine Loop- a road built for people who love to drive and- back then -not for the faint of heart. I climbed above Sundance and ended up in American Fork. I was dizzy from the great curves and from being inside the multi-colored autumn forest and seeing the river that ran thru it. There might have been ten cars on the road in two hours. I was in another dimension, and I knew I wanted more of that.

And then, once I moved to Utah…Well, so many years, I was just too busy or felt too busy or was trying to be busy, I missed the fall leaves turning and the warmth of the Indian Summer turning corn cob kernels into jeweled colors.

There were working scarecrows in fields and lots of farmers with stands of produce on the side of the roads. No shiny signs or waving plastic triangle-shaped multi-colored flags. Just a table with squash and corn and late-season apples. It was a beautiful time of year in a brand new place for me.

And while I only knew one family who lived there/here, sometimes, mostly that first winter, everyone I met seemed happy that a new little family, lead by just a mom, was moving into town.

And yes, so much of what that community was, is gone now. And the hillsides have been built upon, and the old track homes in Park Meadows are now selling for millions, hand-to-God, millions of dollars. And I sometimes think about who I was and what the town was and how very, very lucky I was to find it, all those decades ago.

But here’s what remains the same- we can’t control very much in the universe though as humans we think we have the powers of Zeus and can make impossible things happen. And while great individual and sometimes even collective things still happen in town- despite throwing money and multiple planning sessions around it- we don’t control the seasons. When they arrive… nor how long they stay… or the ramifications if they are unpredictable.

I have a dear, dear friend who entered hospice this week. She has a terrific family and great care and support from so many friends. What she wanted to do with me was sit on her wide porch looking at the mountains of our community and have a gin and tonic.

I was fairly certain her meds and taste buds had little idea what cold liquid she was drinking. But she was abundantly clear what wonder we were looking at. We slipped into one of our easy conversations about the conservation of resources and water use and responsibility to the land and how beauty looks different thru different lenses.

The hills, with their fully spectacular fall show this year, urge us to slow down and embrace a beauty that is so short-lived. Like the lifespan of a human versus a mountain. Beauty comes to us on the wings of a raptor or the twirling descent of a brightly-colored September leaf. I am grateful for this window in time and place and heart space to share a brightly-colored September Sunday, in the Park…


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