Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Binding generations

Ol’ Myrt received a phone call last week from a very excited 7-year-old granddaughter. At the risk of using my family as an example, I’d like to share the experience.

My granddaughter had an exciting family history EXPERIENCE. She had gone with her family on an afternoon drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon, east of Salt Lake City where they live. It was one of those hopeful mid-spring days with sunshine and only a little warmth. In that inter-mountain west climate, one must take care not to set out the geraniums until after Memorial Day.

Those mountains there are part of the Rocky Mountains, barren in comparison to the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges of Washington; the “Evergreen State” where I was born, raised and currently reside. By contrast, the mountains surrounding the Salt Lake Valley appear rocky and sandy. But like Ol’ Myrt’s childhood excursions into the mountains on the Olympic Peninsula with my Dad, my little granddaughter reveled in the experience of family time exploring her Utah mountains. I guess you could say you’ve got to take your mountains as they come, evergreen or barren; they are mountains just the same.

Don’t get me wrong. There ARE trees in the mountains around Salt Lake City – great stands of Aspen in particular. On the face, as viewed from the once desolate Salt Lake Valley, the local mountains have a few stands of scrub brushes, with an occasional sagebrush blown about by the wind. Let’s totally ignore rising encroachment of new housing developments, an inevitable sign of growth and progress (?) as time marches on. Ol’ Myrt couldn’t believe they actually put houses on the crest of “South Peak” but I digress.

In those Wasatch Mountains east of Salt Lake City, the undergrowth tends to lie hidden unless one ventures up the winding roads between peaks. There the vegetation is more pronounced, tending to congregate near streams and rivers in the canyons between these mountains. Thousands of years of deciduous leaves have blanketed the area with fairly rich soil. But the face of the mountains and the underbelly of the canyon areas are often solid. The rock there tends to be whitish granite, not the red rock of Bryce and Zion’s canyons far to the south.

WHAT ABOUT MY GRANDDAUGHTER? Now you must realize that aside from being a marvelously talented apple of her father’s eye, my granddaughter is a bit unique, in that all she wanted in the world for her 7th birthday was a rock polisher. YES, A ROCK POLISHER. While she does love her Barbie dolls and dress-up clothing, my granddaughter loves rocks. Maybe it was the influence of a family reunion at Lake Powel last summer? Maybe it’s from playing with the stones surrounding the pond by Great-grampa Glen’s water fall. I am not sure why, but that girl just LOVES rocks.

So it is NATURAL for her to be drawn to the rocks along the path as she and her family wandered on their mountainous trek yesterday.

SO WHERE DOES FAMILY HISTORY COME INTO PLAY? Imagine this little girl’s surprise when the family literally stumbled into “Temple Stone Quarry.” Fortunately her mother, my daughter was able to explain to my granddaughter that she is descended from Charles Warner PLAYER (Ancestral File Number: 35W4-5M) a stone cutter who worked on the Salt Lake Temple (of the LDS Church) and that this quarry was the place where the stones were cut. His father William Warner PLAYER (Ancestral File Number: BBMD-20) was the original immigrant, who arrived on a ship through the Port of New Orleans with his wife Zillah (Saunders) . OK I am sure the quotation of Ancestral File Numbers was not part of the conversation, but again I digress.

THANK-HEAVENS I’ve told these old family stories again and again, so much so that I am sure my daughters sometimes rolled their eyes when I wasn’t looking. But LOW & BEHOLD, when presented with the opportunity, my daughter could tell HER daughter where our ancestors fit into the history of the area. My granddaughter could literally run her fingers along the face of a remaining rough-blasted granite rock, making note of the impressions made by primitive tools of the late 1800s. For all we know, this could have been one of the rocks little Aubrey’s 6th great-grandfather carved.

Ol’ Myrt may have another family genealogist in the making. At the very least, she is a budding geologist.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

(c) 2007 All Rights Reserved.

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