Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tell Me a Story: Where I Grew Up

I grew up in Vernal, Utah. Also known as Dinosaurland. There is a big focus on dinosaurs in the area because we have the Dinosaur Quarry (officially Dinosaur National Monument, but we've always just referred to it as the Quarry) a short distance outside of town. It's a pretty famous fossil site - there are even pictures of the Quarry in the Smithsonion's dinosaur exhibit.

There is also a dinosaur museum in town. (Again, the official name is more impressive - Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum. They built a new, updated museum a few years ago. It's much nicer than the one I grew up visiting!) There are statues of dinosaurs around town, too. Mostly of Dina, the town mascot. But also one of a giant T-Rex in the middle of Main Street. The T-Rex dresses up for holidays... a bunny at Easter, a Santa hat and lights at Christmas, etc. I always find it pretty funny. :)

So with the dinosaur obsession in town, I grew up knowing a lot about dinosaurs. After all, we had two field trips each year all through my school years. One would be to the dinosaur museum in town, the other to the dinosaur quarry. Sheer repetition meant that I would absorb a lot of dinosaur knowledge. I actually didn't realize how much random dinosaur knowledge I had acquired until college, when one of my roommates took a paleontology class. She would bring her homework to me each night because I knew most of the answers already without having looked it up... I should have taken that class! I could have used an easy A. :)

For most of my growing-up years, we lived in a house right next door to my grandparents on their farm. That meant it was just a quick walk across the fields to visit Grandma and Grandpa any time you wanted. You could stay the night there pretty much any night of the week. You could run over there to hide out when you weren't getting along with your family. It was pretty great.

I also loved being able to go roam the fields with my siblings and cousins. We would trek up to the pond and fish for sunfish... so tiny and useless that you couldn't even cook them. Yet we kept bringing them home for dinner. We picked watercress from the creek and Grandma would make watercress sandwiches for lunch. We picked asparagus from the roadside to cook for dinner. We got corn straight from the huge cornfield.

There were chickens and pigs and cows, too. I wasn't a huge fan of any of them. The pigs were huge and dirty and mean. The cows mostly ignored us - they really just liked Grandpa. But I learned to milk a cow and strain and separate the milk. It wasn't until I went to school that I ever had pasterized milk - we had always just had fresh milk from the cows. The "school milk," as we called it, tasted so horrible to us that my mom had to send a note to school excusing us from drinking the nasty stuff. (Actually, I still hate the taste of milk now. I wonder if I would like the fresh, unpasteurized stuff if I tried it again? Maybe my dislike of milk is still from the days of "school milk.")

I could gather eggs and feed chickens. I wasn't a fan of that, either, since the hens would sometimes peck at you when you tried to gather the eggs or even put out food. But I still helped with those chores because it meant going out with my Grandpa who I adored (still do!).

We would swim in the canal and swing on the rope swing in the gully. We smashed down "rooms" in the hay field and played there for hours. (Until we got in trouble for mashing the hay.) We tried riding the horses (we weren't very good at it) and we fed the cows by hand. We had campouts in the fields or on the trampoline in the yard.

We had a lot of fun. It was a wonderful place to grow up.

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