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Copyright 2019 - The String Quartet That Rocks

The Sundance festival part 1

“This place in the mountains, amid nature’s casualness toward death and birth, is the perfect host for the inspiration of ideas: harsh at times, life threatening in its winters of destruction, but tender in attention to the details of every petal of every wildflower resurrected in the spring. Nature and creativity obey the same laws, to the same end: life.” - Robert Redford

With some of the earnings from the success of the 1969 film he starred in called Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kida young Robert Redford bought some beautiful mountainside property in Utah. Redford acquired a small ski resort, and renamed it Sundance in honor of his character’s name in the movie. Redford’s love of the arts and nature were the driving forces behind his creative vision for Sundance, which blossomed over the next 30+ years alongside his career as actor and director. His idyllic mountain location became the creative nest and origin of the Sundance Film Festival (set up to support independent cinema, now one of the world’s most influential film festivals), Sundance Institute (set up to support aspiring filmmakers), Sundance Channel, and the Sundance catalog. Robert Redford has always been a vocal protagonist for environmental protection and a big supporter of the arts, so when I found out that the eco-friendly Sundance Resort offered learning vacations it seemed right up our alley- and the perfect romantic fall getaway for the surprise I had in store for Natazha.

Natazha had no idea where we were going this trip, I only told her that she should pack for cool mountain weather. She didn’t know we were flying to Utah, and had no idea that there was a blue diamond ring in my jacket pocket that I was waiting to give to her. Was I nervous? Let’s just say that the only time I’ve been more fidgety than when I had that engagement ring in my pocket was the time I ordered a quadruple espresso drink called the Keith Richards. I wasn’t really nervous about asking the question, I was mostly nervous about losing the ring, spoiling the surprise, or bumbling the moment in some other way before the delivery. Natazha and I have known that we would spend all the rest of life’s adventures together since the day we met, and I’ve asked her to marry me every day for at least the last 6 months of the 7 we’ve been together. Nevertheless, I wanted the “real” proposal to be special, and the beauty of Sundance made that easy.

We got settled in on Sunday, and after grabbing a bite to eat in the restaurant we jumped on the ski lift to head up the mountain. The ski lift runs in warmer months for hikers and mountain bikers to enjoy the trails and panoramic views. The mountains were exploding with color and in my nervousness I actually forgot to bring either of my nice cameras (still or video), so we did our best to capture the moment with our Iphones. We got off the lift and walked along a small trail to a private spot on one of the peaks, and that is where I popped the question and got that burning ring out of my pocket and onto Natazha’s hand. My planned speech melted into a jumble of smiles and a couple of sentences that I can’t really remember; I’d like to say that my breathlessness was due to the altitude, but apparently I’m a softy at heart. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.

We spent the rest of that evening celebrating with some great wine in front of the fireplace in our cabin. Sundance has real wood burning fireplaces in the rooms, and each room has cool furniture and a rustic chic styling that makes it perfectly fine to throw another log on the fire, get cozy, and order room service.

We spent the next two days playing around in the mountains, taking photos and making art. The path from our cabin to the restaurant and store winded through the woods alongside a mountain stream, so there was no shortage of beautiful spots to take pictures along the way. Sundance has a store that sells art made by the resident instructors that work and teach in the art studios right next door. You can buy jewelry, hand blown glass, pottery, paintings, photographs, and other art that is all made on site. The “Art Shack” offers one day workshops, and Natazha and I signed up for the pottery and jewelry making classes. The pottery instructor Tim has been making pottery and teaching at Sundance for over a decade. With Tim’s guidance, Natazha and I had enough time in the two hour class to each make two items. I made a disbowl (okay, so I had to make up a new word because it is somewhere between a dish and a bowl) and a cup, and Natazha made a bowl and a vase.  My “disbowl” looked pretty good from the top angle (which is what I saw while shaping it) but the next day when I came back I was convinced that someone had replaced my masterpiece with a kindergartener’s art project- the base was much chunkier than I remembered. Luckily my cup turned out a little better! Natazha is still convinced that her bowl shrunk and got wobbly overnight. It is funny how our memory of the fun we had making them worked like photoshop to retouch our mental images of our first attempts at ceramics. Natazha had it down by the second attempt though, and her vase came out really nice. As with everything, practice helps. The next day we took a silversmithing jewelry class, but I am going to let Natazha tell you about that along with her version of the weekend story in next week’s blog!