Teri Orr: With gratitude…
This holiday season has been elastic, suspended and extended in a surreal manner. In part — it is how the holidays fell — on Tuesdays — the weekends were ramp-ups of activities and the weekdays — before and after — anticipation and recovery days rolled together.
Christmas morning was cold and snowy and started with neighbors knocking on my door. Bright-faced children with a handwritten card — a drawing of my house (and a squiggly arrow pointing at the purple scribbles with a roof saying — “your house.”) They also brought warm monkey bread. Later we were drinking stars — as monks long ago declared of champagne — and we were walking back and forth between multiple homes with warm fires and the laughter of generations.
Living in the same home since 1980 I have seen couples move in who became families. Families grow up to make families of their own. We have shared the struggle of life-threatening illnesses and the joy of graduations and understood careers that have dipped and taken wings. I am the oldest living person in my neighborhood — a distinction that surprises me and fills me with gratitude.
One house in our cul-de-sac is owned by a family who lives here only part time. Work took them to Southern California and they managed to keep their Park City home as a haven. They hosted one of the gatherings and the best part was seeing all the young adults who had not so long ago been small children in my yard, hugging and catching up in person. We all are connected online. From New York to Portland to travels in Europe and Indonesia. We journey together and stay connected in electronic ways — so when we are in person there is a shared shorthand.
Later in the week a young couple who grew up here (I have known the young man all of his life) were home for a few days. They stopped over and we caught up on the changes they were planning. Leaving their jobs in Colorado at the end of June and launching themselves into Canada. They have no children so making a move, being vagabonds for a spell, is something they can do. They are so in love and so kind to each other and funny and wise beyond their years. And they let me tell some stories and we remembered some people we had loved who have passed on and we toasted a new year.
This strange elongated holiday season has been filled with treats. Like coming home from gathering the preparations for Christmas Eve, I discovered neighbors had dropped off firewood. And homemade legendary peanut brittle — I knew without a note which couple had been so kind.
There was a bag Christmas morning with bubble bath and books, new socks and chocolates on the front porch. One neighbor plowed my driveway and another pulled my garbage can in when I was at work. The bird feeder knocked off the tree by a moose was magically returned to a spot much higher up than I could have reached on my own.
I understand the town is changing — fast now. In Old Town I am told 72 percent is owned by folks out of state. In my little flat Park Meadows neighborhood of funky old homes — we are 63 percent out-of-state people. Even Prospector Square is at the 50 percent tipping point.
In our wildest dreams in the ’70s nobody ever thought there would days where so many skiers would be here that at the end of the school day/ski day there would be more cars than could move through a single stoplight cycle — because there was only one stoplight then anyway.
I remember in the late ’70s and ’80s how we would say of the miners’ widows — why didn’t they just cash out and sell their homes and start over and not struggle? Move to the valley or … anywhere. And I interviewed a bunch of those widows. To a person they said, “Because this is my home. And my friends live here. I don’t want to be anywhere else.”
I better understand those widows’ words now.
I find I need more quiet more often. Big swaths of quiet. Like the snow fields connecting of our yards. Where white crosses fence lines and property lines and kids and dogs easily move in a free range fashion. Where the bare branch trees cast afternoon shadows and animal prints become visible in the crusty snow.
I love living here. Right here — in this small house with big windows and strong light and filtered views of the mountains. I love the crashing through the trees on occasion by the moose. I love the birds that stay for a spell at the feeders and sing. I love the quiet street with the folks who walk dogs and the couple — about my age — who walk the neighborhood almost every day, holding hands and having conversations like they are newlyweds.
I understand the town is changing. I get the whole … “change is inevitable.” But there are some frozen days I keep close and hold precious and this holiday season has been filled with an abundance of them.
About a year ago one of the cul-de-sac clan put their home on the market. They thought moving in the county would be better for the kids — more space, more friends. When I saw the sign come down on their house I feared they had found a buyer. Instead I learned they had decided to stay. I sent a text to confirm and the reply came…
Park Meadows subdivision one for life — its like a gang only cooler…
I responded Tribe — people love tribe = lose the gang — so retro.
Dropped like a bad habit
For now they tolerate The Old Broad and I delight in their many kindnesses. This holiday season is filled with gratitude — enough to extend long beyond this 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.
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