#281 – Dick Bernard: "A Red Sky at Morning…." Thoughts at Thanksgiving 2010

Last Friday morning in Salt Lake City we were treated to a vivid sunrise over downtown. It was a magnificent vista, even if spoiled by some cars in the parking lot and a nearby sandwich shop.
I stepped out on our hotel balcony, and took two photos:

Salt Lake City UT early morning November 19, 2010

Utah State Capitol, early morning, November 19, 2010

Of course there is often a downside to a red sky at morning. As the ancient rhyme goes: “Red Sky at Night, Sailor’s Delight; Red Sky at Morning, Sailor’s Warning.”
As predicted by both sky and weatherman, seasonable weather began to turn, with heavy snow on Saturday night. Today, Tuesday, came an e-mail from a Salt Lake City friend reporting that a blizzard had descended on the Salt Lake City area and the University of Utah had closed.
So, enjoy those morning red sky’s while you can…something bad might be on the other side!
Meanwhile, back indoors in the “Crossroads of the West”, in the papers and on television in Salt Lake City, the yapping of the day revolved around the evil TSA and its supposedly horrendous and invasive procedures at airport check-in. We had checked in at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport last Wednesday afternoon; and checked in again at Salt Lake City airport last Sunday. There was a severe disconnect between the reality we experienced in the airports and the on-line, print and video outrage portrayed by the formal and informal media. We all went through the lines quietly and without incident. Of course in every crowd there’s the near-“road rage” type, but they are the rare exception. But they also make – dominate – the “news” today, on most any subject.
The vast majority of us knew the check-in drill, practiced for years now. The TSAers we encountered were polite and businesslike. We saw or heard no meltdowns. We weren’t newsworthy.
If the crowd we were with in those check-in lines represents America, the country is okay. And that we can be thankful for.
This being Salt Lake City, we took in programs at Temple Square and toured the immense and magnificent Latter Day Saints Conference Center across the street from Temple Square. As expected, people were unfailingly polite and gracious. Our Guide at the Conference Center was a few years older than I, and walked with a limp – five hip replacements can do that to a person. But the fact that she would take on such a volunteer assignment was most impressive. The Mormons know a thing or two about hospitality.

Temple Square from the roof of the LDS Conference Center. The Tabernacle is the building with the unusual roof at right.

The evening of the “red sky at morning” we attended a magnificent Bell Concert at the Tabernacle. Because I arrived late, I joined a line of latecomers and ended up with what I considered to be the best seat in the house: behind the orchestra, seated where the Tabernacle Choir sits. Missing the first half-hour was almost worth it.

At the conclusion of the Holiday Bells Concert at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City November 19, 2010

Sunday morning we joined the group attending the weekly radio broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir from “the crossroads of the west”. One needs not be Mormon – I’m not – to be inspired by this magnificent choir.
The radio broadcast began in 1929; I first saw the Choir in person in 1971; first heard it a few years earlier. It is constant quality, it’s members volunteers. This being Thanksgiving week, the program was Thanksgiving based. The rendition of Irving Berlin’s “Counting your blessings” brought tears (listen to a version here).
Outside the Tabernacle’s walls, of course, the winds of controversy about this or that continued to swirl. But for a moment there was a respite.
Tomorrow, Thanksgiving eve, grocery stores will be packed; then there is Thanksgiving; then there’s that monstrosity called “Black Friday” – the official frenzy beginning the “Christmas Shopping Season”, unfortunately our real “Christmas season”. The traditional reason for Christmas is left to compete for leftovers of attention. “Christmas” is “shopping”. At my coffee place, Christmas music started Nov. 1.
“Christmas shopping” will happen.
Today, I prefer to remember the image outside the Salt Lake City home where my brother’s 65th birthday was being celebrated last Saturday night. The “Red Sky” had brought winds earlier, then rain, then snow to the windward side of the Wasatch, and large wet snowflakes began to fall. I took a few photos of the outside scape. Here’s one of my favorites:

Salt Lake City Saturday evening November 20, 2010

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving, and work for a brighter, better country and world.