My mother was a powerful force in the lives of her daughters – five of them. She taught us to hold our own in a Mormon society where girls, especially tomboys, and non-Mormons were shunted to the sidelines. She was never on the sidelines. And, by sheer example, she taught me to love playing in the sun. For Mother’s day, here’s one story about how her powerful presence and unconventional style made a permanent mark on me.
When I was very young, too young to go to camp, she took my two older sisters and me to see where she had gone to camp as a young Girl Scout. Camp Cloud Rim was a long scary trip for a small child. It started like so many other drives, south out of our neighborhood towards my grandmother’s. But a sharp turn east, up into Parley’s Canyon and through Park City, took us away from routine. Parley’s, because it had an interstate running through it, was not a canyon we frequented. It was unfamiliar, and the traffic moved faster than what I was used to. Park City, a virtual ghost town at the time, with a Main Street lined with abandoned shacks, was forbiddingly foreign. But the scariest part was the trip out of Park City and up Guardsman’s Pass, a single-lane dirt road of endless switch backs. Mom told us, “If someone is coming down, we will have to back up.” Peering out the window, over the edge of nothing, this seemed a scenario that could only end in death. After turning my head away from the window on every hairpin turn, a high alpine meadow littered with wild flowers and aspen provided a respite from imminent danger. Camp was just around the corner, in a small glacial valley defined by a stunning blue lake twinkling in the breeze. As we got out of the car, the cold clear air, the scent of pines, the rocky crags, and the breeze in the aspens made the phrase I had heard all my life, “This is the place.” make sense to me. My mother had brought me home. Her foresight and pluck (being a young Girl Scout who spent her summers in the mountains when most girls in her periphery were knitting at home) planted the seed for joy, solace, and inspiration in wild places – my ballast in life.