Saturday, January 7, 2017

Saturday Stories in 2017--Timpanogos

I'm sitting in the cozy Salt Lake City airport, watching the snow flurries get stronger and stronger, praying that they don't get bad enough to delay my flight home. I've been here in Utah since Wednesday, helping Ben get set up for his first semester of college at BYU. More on that next week.

I recognized my importance in the link of life on Thursday. I knew three of my four grandparents, heard stories of their lives from their lips. Through me, these people will stay alive for my children, my grandchildren, and hopefully my great-grandchildren. It's an unsettling feeling--recognizing your life has an undetermined end.

As Ben and I scurried across the Wasatch Front, purchasing this and that to furnish his dorm room, I started waxing nostalgic. Stories spilled from my mouth at each passed landmark or memory. I was surprised how little Ben knew of these stories. I was once told that parents assume their children know all of their parents' stories, because they tell us we're repeating ourselves all the time, but in fact, children know very little of their parents' lives before they arrived on the scene. I decided that Saturdays of 2017 would become 52 stories from my life--or from my family's life. I don't anticipate them coming out in any order or linking together, so here goes.

This mountain has always been special to me. I grew up in Idaho, but we always traveled to Utah at least twice a year--for Thanksgiving and family reunions. From the time I was a little girl, I would excitedly wait to round Point of the Mountain in Draper so that I could be the first in the car to spy Mount Timpanogos. My dad would always comment on how it looked on that trip to Orem. "Timp looks really dry this year" or "Wow. Look at the snow!" or just simply "There's my mountain." Because Timp was his mountain, it became my mountain, too.

He used to tell us about his adventures at the foot of Mount Timpanogos with his brothers and his friends--how they would ride their bikes from 1720 South all through the apple and cherry orchards to the foothills. They would play Cowboys and Indians or recreate scenes from Western movies or just explore. Sometimes they would ride their horse, Trixie, and sometimes they would snitch fruit until their bellies hurt. When he retold these adventures to me, I always pictured them in black and white--like Andy Griffith's Mayberry or Ozzie and Harriet. How would it have been to be a kid in the 50s, the golden age of childhood where they ran free and played at the foot of such a beautiful mountain? In my mind, my dad always wore a white t-shirt, flannel shirt, cuffed jeans, and black Chuck Taylors, with his hair slicked and shaped just right. I've seen a few pictures of him at this age, and those pictures transformed into movies in my mind.

I don't remember how old I was when he told me the legend behind the mountain--the story of the Indian princess and the brave from another tribe who fell in love and lived their own Romeo and Juliet story. In this version of the story, when the beautiful princess died a tragic and untimely death for love, her sleeping profile was preserved as the ridge, and I always looked for her long hair and strong profile on the north end of the mountain. When I learned that Timp had a cave and in that cave was a special room where the "heart of Timpanogos" is protected (a stalactite deep in the cave), I knew the story must be real somehow.

Years later, when I lived in first Provo then in Orem, I would find Timp during all seasons, checking on her for my dad. How was the snow level for July? Were the leaves changing yet--first high then gradually creeping down to the valley floor? I felt so lucky to live there at the foot, just as he had as a boy.

When Ben and I were in Provo, Timpanogos was shrouded behind snow clouds, and I hoped I would get to show him this mountain that means so much to me and to my dad. The next day all the clouds had cleared, and the most spectacular winter day spread across Utah Valley. I left my hotel, picked Ben up from his new dorm room, and as we turned the corner into the parking lot, I said, "There she is. There's Timp."

Watch over my boy, Princess. And I'll make sure he checks in with you periodically this semester. 

No comments:

Post a Comment