Provo for Ever

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The week before my Ever turned three we went hiking on the foothills above our house. It was a breezy day with sun and natural activity--ants, bees and budding wild plants. We started our ascent from Old Willow Lane, climbing up towards the Y Mountain.

Ever is a great hiker, she moves without complaint. Midway up the path we stopped for a break and said our hellos to Mount Timpanogos--the massive heap of rock and grass guarding the entrance to our canyon and splits our valley in half. Legend tells of an Indian warrior princess who lost her lover in a battle. She was so distraught she climbed to the top of the mountain and willingly gave up her life to join her lover in the afterlife. After this heart break, the mountain responded--slowly eroding into peaks and valleys at the top of the mountain curving out the shape of a sleeping woman, her hands resting on her chest. A silhouette of the warrior princess, legend says.

Ever's hands were full of sticks and rocks, treasures of the earth, and I couldn't persuade her to give them up for better balance. I asked her if she wanted to keep going to the top of the foothill.

"Yes, all the way to the top!" She responded.

So we hiked some more, straight up a dusty incline. She stayed with me, her head bouncing on my hip from time to time. And then, when we reached the apex of the hill we turned around to see our town mapped out before us. The wide early-Mormon pioneer streets, the busy protruding of downtown, the pines and maples poking up out of our own neighborhood, the dark green rectangle of the cemetery and all the way out west the sparkling blue lake before our eyes.

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"Can you see our town Ever?" I asked my daughter, her brown eyes wide to the view.

Then she responded, breathlessly, with hope in her voice,

"Oh Mom! Is this my stage?"

I was three when my family moved from the Bay Area in California to Provo. Ever's age. That was when I suppose Provo became my stage too. I found it a fickle audience at times and I spent most of my life wondering what it felt like to open up new curtains. But the stage is changing, the audience too. And I feel peaceful about raising my children here.

"Yes, honey," I said patting her back, "this is your stage." The sleeping warrior princess, the white-washed Y on the mountain, the bowl-shaped landscape of Kiwanis park, the delicious row of locally-owned restaurants in downtown, the sounds of the Rooftop Concerts in the summer, the roar of the crowd at LaVell Edwards stadium in the fall, the packed parade route on the Fourth of July--this is your stage, Ever.

"But I forgot my microphone," she said disappointed.

And even though her hands were full of sticks for improvisation, she chose to let the moment pass on by. No performing today. In this she's already ahead of my own act--knowing when to perform and when to cancel a show.

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