My little town of Pleasant Grove, Utah felt a little more like home last week. I’m not originally from Pleasant Grove. I’ve lived here for many years. But, I was originally born in Washington. I grew up in the Olympia, Washington area. Western Washington is green. Famously green. Washington is called the Evergreen state. The state tree is an evergreen. The state holiday is a rain delay.
Well, at least Western Washington is that way. Eastern Washington is a lot like Utah, without the mountains, or the canyons. But, West of the Cascades is green. Seattle is called the Emerald City. Yes, just like in the Wizard of Oz.
Moving to Utah was hard. I came for school, but married a girl from “back home” who was also attending BYU. We moved back to Washington after a few years. It was just so hard, after growing up literally in the heart of the forest, to live in the desert. It was dry, it was brown, it was hot. It was everything that Washington was not. And I hated it.
We moved back and forth several times. Each time we felt like visitors in Utah and felt at home in Washington. The last time we moved back we chose to live in Pleasant Grove and decided we would stay this time. That was about 10 years ago. And having made the decision to live here permanently, I started to see the beauty of Utah.
At first it was simply the beauty of a sunset in the desert. The sky was painted with reds, orange and yellows. We took the scouts out camping eleven months out of the year. Each season has its beauty. The Fall leaves. The Spring flowers in a high meadow. The sunrise on a Summer’s morning in the Wasatch mountains. The glisten of moonlight on a snow field.
And then there is the landscape. Sand dunes of Little Moab. Slot canyons of Southern Utah. The pines of the High Uintas. And the beauty of our cities and towns, especially our little town of Pleasant Grove.
But, still, the green! What about the green? Utah is a desert. Western Washington is a rain forest. How can they even compare? In my memory they could not.
I made a trip back to Washington a couple weeks ago. We had a tragic death in the family and we went “home” to bury our dead. But, a strange thing happened while I was there. I didn’t feel at home. I felt like a visitor. And I missed Pleasant Grove and my family. I stayed at my brother’s house. His yard has something that most houses in Western Washington don’t have; a sprinkler system. Here in Pleasant Grove, of course, nearly everyone has a sprinkler system. One of our summer projects was to redo the sprinklers in our yard. My family and I have spent house in the sun digging trenches, replacing heads and getting wet.
My brother’s sprinkler system doesn’t get used very often. It rains in Washington. . .a lot. Not as much as they say on TV, but still, rain is pretty common. We once had 105 days in a row with rain every day. But, it’s the end of August. It’s been a long hot summer in Washington as well as elsewhere in the country. My brother knew family would be gathering at his house and his wife wanted the lawn to look more green.
But, his system was broken. Not badly. It was missing one head and needed a couple other heads replaced. It involved some digging and three different trips to Home Depot. But, honestly, it helped distract me from the painful events of our trip. And I got to feel useful. The sprinkler system worked. His lawn started to green up. And it needed it. See, very few of the lawns in his neighborhood had sprinkler system and it was the end of a long hot summer. Their lawns were all brown. Even his was not the lovely green from my memories. But, here, in dusty, dry, hot Utah, our lawns are green. In fact, driving through Pleasant Grove, we are presented with yard after yard, block after block of beautiful lawns. Some are more green than others, but thanks to the secondary water system, nearly every house in Pleasant Grove has a sprinkler system and a beautiful patch of green.
What I thought I missed from “home” wasn’t even there. Instead, it was here, in my real home, amid the mountains and the canyons and the beautiful desert.
Where I am has become where I’m from.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
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