Pauline Locke - A Brandeston Resident Living in Utah
11 February 2008
I came to live in Utah for a couple of years and here we still are twelve years later with a new set of dogs and still trying to escape.
I wasn't prepared for a culture shock. I thought it wouldn't be much different from England - after all, we do speak the same language and have a similar lifestyle.
The first trauma was driving on the wrong side of the road; it was like being a learner driver again, surrounded by maniacs with a hot line to God. Traffic lights turning amber means speed up; turning red means there's still time to go; drive slowly in the fast lane and overtake in the slow lane. My car has very low mileage for its age and just goes up the road to the mountain to take the dogs for a walk.
Trauma number two: I need an interpreter. At times I still find it difficult to make myself understood and often find it easier to let someone else say, "She wants .............."
For a long time, I thought there were a lot of fancy dress parties going on; lots of people in cowboy hats and boots or strange old men in "OshKosh" dungarees and men in black suits with their wives in long skirts from the predominant religion around here. "What brings you here?" is their first question. Translated, that means "Have you joined the church?" Religion spills over into most of life here. The local TV news (KSL Channel 5) is run by the church, laws are influenced by the church and we have to drive to Idaho for a Lotto ticket because gambling is illegal. There is no alcohol in the supermarkets (just 3.2% beer); sinners have to find a State Liquor Store which is hidden away in a back street somewhere. Yes, of course, I found it!
Utah has been very good for my career. I had a job as the in-house artist at a local publisher for a couple of years and I also did some freelance illustrating. I took some classes with a very eccentric lady called Donna Kearny. I have been told she is Donny Osmond's aunt. She does look very like him and you expect her to burst into song every now and then. I learned a lot from her, about painting that is, not singing.
Lately, I have been concentrating on animal portraits which are far more rewarding than illustration and less stressful. My work has been shown in art shows and Salt Lake City's Hogle Zoo. My web site is here if you would like to see what I do.
This is a great place to live if you don't mind extreme temperatures. Last summer was the hottest on record and this winter, the snow pack is at about 168% of normal. Spring and autumn are the best times to be here. There is skiing and snow-boarding in the winter; hiking, mountain-biking, golf and water sports in the summer. We have apricot, cherry and apple trees and grape vines in the garden.
There is a national park at the top of our street and, weather permitting, I walk the dogs up there every day. There are some stunning views and sunsets to be seen and there are also coyotes, rattle snakes, tarantulas and, of course, mosquitoes. In the winter the deer and moose come down into our gardens for food; this usually makes the evening news!
Apart from the occasional murder or drive-by shooting, life is pretty much the same as Brandeston!
Photos and Paintings: Pauline Locke
See Pauline’s photos of Utah here.
Click here to visit her web site.