Teri Orr: The fullness of summer
By the time (most of) you read this, it won’t yet be the 4th of July but the parade will have already passed you by. This not-quite-post Covid year is confusing. And in trying to get back to “normal” so many things are off kilter. If you are visiting and missed the memo, the 4th events happened on the 2nd but you can cruise the Silly Market and be your own parade on the 4th. The rodeo over in Oakley is still on all the nights if you need to get your giddy up.
The critters in my yard know none of this. They are wildly busy. The magpies- of course -know no season. They are sassy year-round. I can’t say I have become a magpie whisperer but I do think we have reached certain accommodations. I will feed them if they will stop chattering most of the time. When they forget this I am forced to go into the yard and clap them down. They stop their sass.
The rest of the kids in the yard, I just nod and thank them for stopping by- the bunnies and the deer and so many birds this year you would think they had fled from other states during a pandemic and landed here, too. I am a bird watcher only in the sense I watch the birds as they land and snack and sometimes do a little dance in the bird bath and then take off from here. I don’t know all their names and I suspect they don’t know mine. Sometimes I see a brightly-colored new kid show up and I look for my little bird book to try and identify the visitor and, of course, by the time I find my book the bird has disappeared. And sure, I have those plastic-coated guides you take on trips but mostly those birds are more exotic than the birds who are stopping by here. And anyway, I would know a damn pelican if it landed on my porch and I would not need a guide to identify it. (Did you just recite… “what a wonderful bird is the pelican/his bill can hold more than his belican” …Ah Ogden Nash- let’s hear it for the poets!)
The squirrel babies are always a point of concern for we neighbors here who welcome them. They mostly seem to “nest” across the street from me with folks there. When it is time for the toddlers to get lessons on fence running and eating birdseed they migrate to my yard. So far we have seen five altogether at once. Which is kinda fun.
During COVID new people moved into old houses here and we are just learning each other’s names and dogs and cars. It has been decades since so many strollers were on this street and it just feels so right.
The sweetest family moved in next door to me with three small children. I think I remembered the fact the house was now occupied again a bit too late the other day. I was sitting outside having a terrific catch-up Zoom call with wacky folks in three different states and we were being ourselves- inappropriate and slightly racy. We did this with technicolor words. Our best, bad words. They are all working in fields which take them around the world and involve both tech and Hollywood. They have The Best Tales. And the two gay men always win on being the most outrageous and colorful in their stories. When I saw the young mom next door had put one of the kids in a stroller and took her out for a stroll, I was a wee bit mortified to remember I was no longer alone in my corner of the cul-de-sac. I may need to take over a pie to sweeten my salty language misstep.
And yes, we are fully into election season which always makes for a hot time, in the summer, in the city. Here’s my personal list of things politicians should do and not do. Do not text me a political statement if we were not already texting prior to the campaign. It is invasive and unwelcome. Do not scream at me on screen or in a meeting when you disagree with public opinion- anger is never a successful campaign tactic (see last national election). Do not pretend to have knowledge you have not earned about living here. We were all new here once (except Tana Toly) and we all had to listen and learn first and then speak. Don’t run on the laurels of the city as an incumbent unless you can point to solid decisions you participated in that actually made the city better.
Which brings me to the obstacle driving course on Park Ave. It was meant to be an experiment for bike lanes. Do we know when that experiment is over? It was over for me rather quickly – the first time I gave a biker all that lane room and ended up face-to-face with another car coming down the street. I have a friend who lives on Park Ave that I visit frequently so I am still driving on there. When they added the horse troughs with flowers in them, in the middle of a state-declared drought season, I laughed, at first, at the folly of it all. But then I was angry. If the goal of such decisions is to distract us from greater concerns like toxic dust being served with food trucks at a beer garden on city-owned property, on Astroturf with a stage and bands, they want to “activate” so we stop asking hard questions about the toxic soil – none of this is working. We don’t need more visual or audio noise. We need more listening. A lot more listening. A whole lot more listening all the summer Sundays 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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