As a girl from Utah, it will come as no surprise that I basically grew up in the mountains. Between skiing, hiking, and living thirty feet from the canyon, there were few weeks throughout my childhood and adolescence that didn’t involve time spent in the mountains.
But the problem with growing up so near something extraordinary is that from a very early age, you grow accustomed to the ordinariness of it. By the time I was an age at which I could appreciate the beauty of the mountains, they hardly felt remarkable anymore. Just another familiar part of a familiar landscape.
It took leaving and coming back for me to understand how utterly magnificent the walls of the Salt Lake valley are. I remember just before I left for Chicago, the MT and I were walking to 7-11 for Diet Coke and I kept staring up at the mountains that rim our house and asking stupid rhetorical questions like, “Have those mountains always been there? Have they always been that big? Have they always been that jaw-droppingly gorgeous!?”
When I am away from Salt Lake, there are very few things I pine for, but Holy Mary do I miss the mountains.
Last night, the family took a trek up Little Cottonwood Canyon to our favorite ski resort, now absent of snow but instead spilling over with wildflowers. The green hillsides were splashed with yellow and puple and red like streaks of vibrant paint across a canvas. It’s unbelievable, really, like a painting or a movie or something you travel the world to see, not something you find half an hour from your house.
On our way back down the mountain, it started to rain, a light sprinkle accompanied by grumbling thunder and flexing grey clouds, and as far as I could see, the world was so bright and new and petrichor. It just made me happy.
We get lots of letters at the Friend from children expressing their gratitude for the beauty of the world and its creations, but there are few moments in my own life when I am able to recognize this as deftly as they do. I spent the first eighteen years of my life so badly wanting to be anywhere else but where I was that I totally missed the fact that where I was was somewhere extraordinary and beautiful. I went halfway around the world to find the same sort of sense of wonder that I fond in my own backyard last night. I wish I could go back in time and tell seventeen-year-old me to just look around, because anywhere can be beautiful. And someday, seventeen-year-old Mackenzi Lee, you are going to miss the mountains1.
- The Utah Tourism Board should be paying me for this post. Alas.