Thursday, March 20, 2014

This is the Place.

I stayed only a couple days at my folk's house where I was reunited with my beautiful Jana (my motorcycle) and took her up to Ogden to see the rest of my family.  Utah was just amazing to me that summer.  I realize I had just spent a year in the wasteland of the Arabian desert, but Utah always seems so beautiful when I return and I when I am there I sometimes wonder why it is I always leave.  I do love much about being there and often think I will want to return on a more permanent basis. 
It was very green there that summer of 2011, nearly three years ago. I rained much through the spring and the sky was clear and the weather warm and wonderful with fantastic breezes blowing out of the canyons and cool summer nights.
I visited my best friend from childhood, Jason, for a short time and I did chores around my brother's house and happily idled my time away.  I walked with the dogs and with my brother and drove my motorcycle up through some of my favorite rides.
I went back down to my folk's for a few more days to enjoy the country splendor and my nephew Brannock was there also and we hung out and joked.  I did get to spend a little time with my nephews.  They are such fabulous kids and it amazes me how much they still seem to love me.  I should be a stranger to them how little I see them and how far away I have lived.  I will always love them though and they are among the things I miss the very most when I am gone. I miss seeing them grow up and being a part of their lives and I am often jealous at the lives of my sister and brother, that very typical American life, spouse, kids, mortgage, etc. 
I spent the 24th of July in Fairview with my parents. That morning we did the community breakfast in the park and walked around the booths and watched the singing competition, which had the level of professionalism and talent you would expect of a small town.  We went to the kids rodeo in all of its droll splendor.  We also went to the adult rodeo, bucking broncos and wild bulls and over sized belt buckles, lassos, and barrels, and rodeo clowns and the food was that fabulous fair food, and I had had a craving for Navajo tacos for over a year and it was wonderfully quenched  with the crispy fry bread and hot beans and sour cream and all the proper fixings. I noticed that summer how much more I was paying attention to American culture, the food and clothes, and how people interacted and acted and moved and talked.  I wanted to take pictures of handlebar mustaches and BBQ platters and old country trucks and over sized portions and American flags.  I was a tourist in my own country and in my parent's town and all around people that spoke my own language and grew up the same way I did and yet I was a tourist and it seemed I appreciated my own culture more that way.  I was fascinated by all the tiny things that I would not have normally noticed and that seemed so strange and different and I was proud to be from such a place.

 The event of the year in small town Fairview seemed to be the demolition derby that brought people in from all the surrounding towns and some even from down in Happy Valley.  It was a blast.  I had not been to a demolition derby in a long time and I laughed and cheered and smiled at the very idea that such a crowd would form around and enthusiastically cheer around a bunch of old jalopies banging and ramming in to each other in an effort to see who could demolish the most and last the longest.  It might not be fine art or old mysticism, but that my friends is culture, red neck and backwoods and glorious and beautiful culture.

 It was all a grand ceremony in patriotism, though not a national holiday.  For anyone unfamiliar with Utah, the 24th of July is nearly as big as the 4th of July, though instead of celebrating the the nation's independence, we celebrate the arrival of the pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley and their settling of Utah.  It is called Pioneer Day, and is treated much the same is Independence day, with rodeos and fairs and parades and festivals and too much food and family and outdoor celebrations and parties and time at the lake and running through the sprinklers and BBQ and lemonade and fresh corn and fireworks and a hot summer day and cool summer night.  It is always fun to be back in Utah for the 24th of July and I was happy to be with my parents in a small rural town of cowboys and farmers and country drawls and wide open spaces and green fields  and livestock, a town where rodeos mean something and demolition derbies  are a huge attraction

 It really was a great trip. With my parents we ate dinners around the fire outside, grilling burgers and roasting hot dogs and making smores, the perfect summer meal.  I slept out on the lawn with my nephew Brannock and went out for drives with my old man and chatted with my mom and played with their dog. I constantly gazed up to the majestic mountains and as always I was in awe of them, the rocky peaks and boulders and stone slides slipping down the steep slopes, the trees clinging and climbing and the green of trees and gray and brown of earth and stone and the stars at night speckled and spattered and the blackness of night contrasted with a bright moon and that fantastic breeze crawling down in soft whispers from the canyons that surround where I am from.  I love that breeze, the feel of it on my face like a clean shave and a cool kiss.
 We also stayed to watch the fireworks show, surprisingly well done for a town of only a few thousand people. No grand celebration seems complete with the popping and pounding of colorful explosions in the sky.

 With my mother we took drives around the towns surrounding hers, looking at houses and and the farmland and stopping at small thrift stores and country ice cream shops for BBQ sandwiches and ice cream cones and we just drove around more to spend time with each other than to see anything in particular, though we did stop off at one of her favorite homes in the center of a small town down the road.  It was a beautifully restored home with guest house and old barn turned in to a gorgeous studio, though the best part was the cottage garden completely surrounding the property, decorative moss and ground coverings growing in through patchwork stone walks and grasses and flowers in a bright variety of colors standing tall or hanging low or clinging in vines up along walls or drooping down from trellises. We knocked on the door to ask the owner if we could walk around the property and take pictures and he gave us a full tour both inside and out and I was reminding of my love of flowers, a love planted and nourished by my mother and fed by my desire to hold on that connection with her.  That was a beautiful garden, a garden I dream to have that wraps around in a perfect precision of chaos and order.  It has been a while since I have grown my own garden, and I do not know when I will grow another like the one I once had.

 My friend Suzette also visited me from California.  I picked her up at her sister's house down near Provo and we drove up to my folk's and she spent a couple days with me.  We took Jana up the canyon and down around the lakes and the river on the opposite side of the mountains and we walked around up on top of the pass and we wrestled and trash talked and teased and sat out by the fire and acted just as we did before I moved away from California several years before.  It was great to have her visit, to have such a great friend.
 We decided to head up to Ogden so I drove Jana up and she followed behind me in a car and on the way up, an absolute torrential hail storm came down with winds that fiercely pounded against me blowing me all across the road and the hail felt like thousands of BBS stinging my skin in piercing shots and I could see nothing, visibility of mere feet in front of me.  I pulled off and drove slowly along the shoulder, fearing to even park my bike knowing the wind would knock it over, but barely able to keep it up while I drove on top and impossible to see and soaked and drenched riding unprotected in the rain. It was a painful ride and miserable and frightening, unable to see, but unable to pull over.  I found a road to pull of on, though the visibility was so poor, particularly with the hail pounding down on my helmet's visor, that I could not see the road until I was up on it, though just off that road was a church and I parked my bike up on the sidewalk under the awning of the door and fortunately I had some spare clothes in the car so I changed out of my drenched clothes in the bathroom of the church and then Suzette and I slowly drove to a nearby restaurant to wait out the storm.  It passed and we continued the journey up north, driving more canyons and wrestling and trash talking more and being friends again.  She only stayed a couple days and then she flew back to California.  It was great to have her visit. Shortly after she left, I did as well, on my way out of the country again, to a new part of the world and ready for more adventures and new experiences.  I said goodbye to my family again and to my hometown and to my motorcycle and packed my backpack up again and my father drove me to the airport stopping off at Jamba Juice on the way down for favorite meal and then we came to the airport and then I was gone, and Utah and my family were again far from me, though I knew I would return.  I suppose there is a part of us that always clings to home and to the familiar and the memories.

 Utah I’m glad to be here where the mountains rise
Dazzling white ‘neath the clear blue skies
From crimson dawn ’til the dear day dies
Way out west in Utah. 

-"Utah" by Minnie Hardy

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Brother's Best Man.

  Well, it has been a long time since I have bothered to write here.  It seems I often find myself unconvinced of worthwhile reasons, though I have had much to write of these past couple years, many journeys, many new countries traveled, many experiences, thoughts, emotions.  I won't remember them all and can only hope to write a modicum of these things, inadequate as always, insufficient as ever.
  I last wrote when I left the deserts of Arabia on my way home to Utah for a brief visit.  That must have been 2-3 years ago. That visit has long passed, while some of the memories remain.  One of the main plans for that trip back home was to attend my oldest brother's wedding.  My brother Dustin proposed to his girlfriend and seeing as I missed the other weddings in my family due to living out of state and unable to return home, they actually planned the wedding around the time I would be back home in the states, and there was not way I was going to miss it.
 I flew in to Utah and my brother Dallin picked me up at the airport and late that night we arrived at my folk's house and I ran in to hug my parents.  It was not the same return home I had the year before, walking in on my surprised parents with them in a bewildered state of disbelief upon seeing me.  I definitely remember that day, the whole 3 day hitchhiking journey home, the bruises and blisters and growling stomach and sleeping in ditches and collapsing on the side of the street from exhaustion and hunger and having every minute worth it when I walked in the front door of my parent's house and put my backpack down and tapped on my mother's shoulder.  I would still consider that among the best days of my life.
 Dustin's wedding was two days later.  It was a small wedding with only family invited and held in the lush green yard of my parent's home. The weather was a perfect Utah day with perfect Utah scenery, everything green up through the canyon and farms and fields lush in verdant color even in to early August. I always love going back to my parent's small cabin canyon home.  They call it Bridge Hollow, though often shortened to "the Hollow."  It is calm personified.  I know why they love it there so much.  It is a place to lounge days away in a hammock, to sleep outside on a cool summer's night staring up to a million stars, to eat breakfast outside in the cool morning air and roast marshmallows on an open fire with the soft whistling of night time breeze or to enjoy the perfect gift a shady tree.  Yes, I do always love visiting home.
The wedding was small and quaint and wonderfully not overdone.  I guess I have never really understood the reasons for big overblown weddings and prefer simple ceremonies shared with those you truly love and this wedding did not disappoint in this regard.  My brother actually had his leg in a cast and was not suppose to walk on his leg and his cast was in his favorite Bronco orange that stuck out the bottom of his suit pants and he wheeled himself around on his leg scooter, even as he stood up taking his vows, his one bed leg rested on his scooter next to his beautiful bride dressed in white and gleaming as a new bride should.  Women do always steal the wedding, and understandably so, they are the fairer sex for sure.
I was asked to be the best man, though not given typical best man duties such as planning any bachelor party. I made the wedding toast and held the ring and walked the maid of honor, my sister, down the aisle to usher in the star of the show, my new sister-in-law.
The ceremony ended and we enjoyed the light refreshments and the company and the weather and I was happy to have been part of the wedding.  I have often missed the big family events and I still have the photos from my sister's wedding where I was photo shopped in because I was not able to be there.  I was happy to be a part of this and to see my family and have my brother be married to a woman that truly loves him.  It seems it was not too late for at least one of us Stott boys and in even all of my extended family there are only three of us that are still single, the youngest in the family, my cousin Sarah Beth, and then just myself and my brother Dallin.
Anyway, I will write more of Utah in the next post.  For now, I leave with pictures from my brother's big day.



You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
and let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
-Khalil Gibran.  "The Prophet."