Sunday, July 20, 2008
...if you lived in Utah....
The time is 5:40 p.m., the temperature is 92 degrees, but cloudy. Tonight (as last night) there will be lightning storms, lots of thunder, but little rain. July in Utah is a time of picnics and parades and fireworks, rodeos, pageants...if you lived in Utah you'd get the day off work on the 24th. You could drive up into one of the canyons, take your fried chicken and potato salad and watermelon (cold from resting in a safe part of the creek full of snow melt) along for lunch, and cool off beside one of the lakes--Silver Lake, Mary's Lake, Bear Lake only a few of them. You could come back down in the evening for a backyard barbeque and fireworks.
The parades began on the Fourth, of course. There is always a Horse parade, where proud equestrians show off their washed and combed Appaloosa's and Arabian's, and Palamino's.... The Children's Parade is the day before the BIG Parade on the 24th, celebrating the day when the pioneers made it into the valley in 1847. Children dress up like pioneers in bonnets and cowboy hats, or as Indians, in feathers and face-paint. They pull their decorated wagons and ride their decorated bikes, and "end up sweaty and dragging their feet at Liberty Park for popsicles and cold drinks.
The Days of '47 Parade is a big one, with bands and police brigades on motorcycles and floats and fire trucks and clowns throwing out candy to the crowds, and Princesses of Whatever, and balloons--third largest parade in the nation, I think, second only to the Rose Parade and Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Most of the month of July the churches dedicate their services to pioneer songs and stories of venerated ancestors. There are church-sponsored camp-outs, with dutch-oven cook-offs, campfire songs, weiner and marshmallow roasts, Father and Sons overnighters, girls camps, where everybody comes home smelling of woodsmoke and pine.
July is a busy month in Utah. Even the mailman gets the extra day-off.
If you had gone to church with me the last couple of Sundays and sat beside me, you'd have seen the old bishop's boy make a cootie-catcher out of the paper program and annoy his older brother with it. You'd have heard the new bishop's mentally handicapped son (no longer a boy, but a man in his thirties) bless the sacramental bread--no small triumph for him. He is well-loved in the ward, loves to tell jokes. Our ward is quite cosmopolitan. On the other side of me from where you are sitting, sits my Filipina daughter-in-law and my two grandsons. The little one notices the scar under the sleeve on my right shoulder, and asks what that is. That's where the crocodile bit me, I tell him. It's the scar left from my melanoma surgery years ago, but that's too long a story. They entertain themselves with paper and crayons.See, this is you, grandma. And this is me, and this is Grandpa and Simon. This is our house. A few benches up sits Lily with her family. Lily is from Brazil, and I love to look at her because she looks almost exactly like our own Poet Mom, January. Sometimes I imagine she IS January. It makes me smile. Our old bishop and his family sit in the same row. His wife, Bi'shya, is from Taiwan. The speaker talks about emergency preparedness. He talks about earthquakes and hurricanes and tsunamis and tomatoes. He tells us about the head of one of the big corporations who made his employees practice fire drills even tho' they hated him for it and considered the drills a waste of time. He tells how, on the morning of 9-11, most of the people who died in the buildings were frozen at their desks, not knowing what to do. The folks (like 1,700 of them) who had practiced knew what to do, and only 13 of them were lost. The CEO went back into the building to look for the last them, and they found his body on the 9th floor. It was a good talk, interesting, and inspired me to find out where to turn my gas off if there should be an earthquake. Six young women sing, unaccompanied. The song sounds more like an Anonymous Four song from the Middle Ages than a pioneer hymn. It is lovely. The second speaker talks about obedience. Then we all sing "They, the Builders of the Nation."
They, the builders of the nation, Blazing trails along the way,
Stepping stones for generations were their deeds of every day.
Building new and firm foundations, Pushing on the wild frontier,
Forging onward, ever onward, Blessed honored pioneer!
UPDATE: July 24th--9:30 p.m. The parades are history. All the bronco's have been busted and the hogs tied. Fireworks are exploding all over the Valley. Mylie Cyrus, the Blue Man Group, and Glenn Beck are doing their stuff tonight in Provo, Kellie Pickler is at the Sandy Ampitheater (Sawyer Brown was there night before last), and the Osmonds (of course) will be joining the Mormon Tabernacle Choir tomorrow night in Temple Square...The Gallivan Center last night celebrated with an International Culture Fest featuring booths with Mexican, Greek, Asian and other cuisine showing off Utah's ethnic diversity. Am I going to any of these? No. I am staying home where it is cool and eat watermelon and watch TV.