Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be a tourist in my own hometown and visited a Utah state monument with my family, This is The Place Heritage Park. This place, while not owned or operated by the LDS Church is frequently associated with the church because of the Mormon influence on the settling of this state. And, “this is the place” does mark the place where Brigham Young stood at the mouth of Emigration Canyon to pronounce that they had, indeed, arrived at the place he had envisioned.
One of the cool things about living in Utah is the commitment to the preservation of history. Rather than tear down homes and buildings of historical significance, they are instead transported to a plot of land in the 450 acre park that is located in the eastern foothills of the Salt Lake valley. If the building cannot be moved, it is replicated there and what is happening now is there is this little town of old buildings, homes, and shops growing up there, which, for a nominal fee, you can tour and step into the past.
Given that my sister’s family was in town for their spring break, her two young boys asked to go do the tour, so we made it a family outing. It was a perfect time to do it too because it was “baby animal” time. In the petting zoo, there was an hour old lamb, baby bunnies and chicks, baby sheep and lambs, miniature horses, potbellied pigs, and tiny emus. My daughter was entranced with the opportunity to hold and love on the baby animals everywhere. She plopped herself down amidst the hay and the poop and cradled the baby lamb in her arms comfortingly. I watched as the animal who had been terrified by the kids chasing it around, settle into her arms and cosy against her chest, relaxing instantly and seemingly feeling right at home.
The kids had a marvelous time playing with the animals and running up and down the dirt roads with the abandon of carefree children. The adults walked along, talking and laughing, my family meshing well together. We have usually enjoyed one another’s company and I’m so grateful for that fact. I like that my brother and sister are people I WANT to be around.
For me, the opportunity to be in buildings that were over a century and a half old, to feel the energy of the people who had labored to make a barren land their home, and to open my imagination to what it would have been like “back then” was a feast for my senses. I felt myself recognizing things around me as if they were familiar like, for instance, the Deseret alphabet in the schoolhouse. I recognized those “foreign” characters written in fancy lettering and hanging on the wall. I remembered the feel of that wool and the feel of the velvety fabric on the settee in the sitting room. It was an intriguing experience to open up to the memories of the place and allow them to wash over me.
The best part of the day was that I was with my loved ones. I got to listen to the laughter of my daughter and nephews, the voices of my siblings and their spouses, the words of my parents and stepmom. I got to be immersed in a sea of love and soaked it up like a sponge.
There is so much gratitude within me and I am overflowing. Life IS good.