Teri Orr: Sometimes it is enough to be grateful…
The hollyhocks just started showing off. Deep purple -almost black and hot pink- bright green stalks creeping up against my weathered back fence. With any luck they will keep re-pollinating for the next six weeks. It took me years to get these flowers to take hold. They have apparently carelessly blown over to my newer neighbors recently and also rooted there. They loved having them emerge. At least that was the stated excuse the young man gave for bringing me a bottle of whisky last week.
May those flowers keep blowing and blooming!
The deer report includes soft-velvet antlered bucks and spotted babies eating from my bird feeders. The rabbits are spring-loaded, jumping straight up and down and then in some kind of hopscotch game over each other. The lavender has tiny purple flowers and so do the chives. The oregano, mint and tarragon are soft variations of green.
I thought I was getting strawberries this year and I did -from the evidence. Last summer there were no flowers and no berries. This year the flowers came early. Then I would spy unripe berries. A day or two would pass and there would be little stem caps still attached to the plant but no berry. I have come to (reluctantly) accept this. I cannot invite bunnies and birds into my yard all year long and not expect them to behave like creatures of nature and eat what they see. I just hoped they might share…
There are so many new folks in our overall neighborhood since last summer it has prompted an outbreak of attention paid to our trees. Most trees in Park Meadows have only been planted in the last 40 years. And then, respectfully, neglected. Tree companies keep appearing now- pruning here -removing there. Like a scruffy beard over the face our neighborhood- we are suddenly seeing underlying shapes differently.
Back in the ‘70s when Nick Badami of the Alpine Meadows Ski Area purchased the Park City Mountain Resort he also ended up with huge chunks of undeveloped land in town. As the former CEO of the Rapid American Corporation that owned BVD underwear, Maidenform bras, National Shirt Shops, Wonderknit and Botany 500, he wasn’t really interested in the real estate. In fact, there was a bunch of undeveloped land where the ponds were for the ski resort and Nick suggested the city buy that land and make it a golf course. All those acres for $1 million. But the poor city didn’t have $1 million to speculate like that. So, Nick helped them secure a federal grant so they could buy the land. And then, because he was the most consummate gentleman I ever knew, he bought 1,500 trees and had them planted as a closing gift to the city.
He was someone who flew his own small light plane, so he was used to flying over places and seeing with an eye that took in all the landscape. And he cared passionately about leaving things better than he found them.
Right now, we need that ability fly above the city and look at, say, how the Canyons and PCMR and Deer Valley and Mayflower are all connected parts of the same mountain range. You can bet the folks from Vail looked at our town that way decades ago. Because we are now ringed by them and their decades long associates. Local leadership needs to get above the clouds to see how Our Town only exists if we co-exist with the cities and counties we are surrounded by. Our land moat of open space, created in the ‘80s and ‘90s, is beautiful but an illusion. We all live downstream.
New school buildings are going to need to happen at once- which may be one of the few areas of agreement. Every reasonable person -every one of them- thinks we need new spaces to teach our students in new ways. Our buildings are old and tired and not creative spaces for young humans to learn in. Or dedicated adults to teach in. And in all our conversations about what the bond/buildings could look like- how much -how many -where- there are a few areas of complete agreement. Treasure Mountain is a building that has needed to come down since the first employee there got deathly ill. It is a story many ,many, many people have firsthand knowledge of. Teachers, cafeteria workers, students. It is a school that has never worked. Narrow, low-ceilinged dark hallways, the clunky lunchroom/assembly hall- it is a sick building that cannot be made “well.”
There will be a day I will write about that time I almost died here. How all the doctors at the University of Utah gave up on me ( nicely) and sent me to the National Jewish Medical Center in Denver (number 1 at the time for respiratory care). After 10 days of invasive tests, they gave me the grim diagnosis no one wants. That was more than 20 years ago, and I beat the odds. But I didn’t forget all the dust that settled…in my lungs.
The point of this is simple. If you are able to step back and smell the rabbits, er, watch the hollyhocks jump, I mean, if you are grateful for the stolen strawberries -you are blessed. You are here to be part of the dialogue- against the odds. That old cliché when we know better, we do better, has never been needed more than now.
The sweat equity that exists in this small town I would gauge exceeds any other. If you just moved here and don’t understand what I am talking about – we were all new here once- even the folks born here. New in the sense that we all had to choose to want to learn about the sense of this place. That “can do” spirit that often hits up against the “F you” spirit. It is the epitome of the West. We build fences together or we knock them down, together. If you think you can be a Lone Ranger, you are in a radio drama -not real life. Here, we all need each other to create community. Love together- fight the elements and rotten politics- together. Wait for years for the hollyhocks to choose to bloom and the bunnies to play hopscotch. And remember that time you almost died and then be grateful you didn’t. These aren’t things you think about every day- but on the occasional summer Sunday in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the founder of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts. She has been a member of the TED community since 2007 and founded TEDxParkCity in 2009.
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