Wednesday, June 23, 2010


As a born and bred Idaho Girl, I was excited for a recent reunion away from the farm, over the river and through the woods to Island Park. Driving through southeast Idaho, the valleys are wide and plain. Plod further north and you get to beautiful Ashton, and right on the border of that town, you see the impending rise of the land, a major geologic shift forcing your transmission to growl. Within the course of a mile, the landscape transitions from wide sagebrush plains and winding rivers to forest. Don't think lush Oregon forest: ferns underground shaded by the massive outstretched arms of pinion pines catching oceanic gusts. It's just miles and miles and miles of tall, straight, narrow Lodgepole Pines.

These are the trees of Island Park and Yellowstone. These are the trees of my childhood trips to cabins and geysers. These are the trees whose cones stay sealed shut, never replenishing their seeds until they are set on fire. And thus, these are all the trees that burned and burned back in 1988 when I was just 13 years old. The let-it-burn process was natural, but soon became a crisis. Then the fire and smoke sent boyfriends away as firefighters, and spewed a billowing gloom for hundreds of miles that turned the moon red and had folks quoting end of the world scripture.

I could, and I did, sit in the passenger seat for miles with head crooked to the right, watching the assembly line of lodgepoles running past catching their brief dance with sunlight from above. And so it was that I turned to The Mister of the House, on our way to the Olsens-from-Utah Reunion and stated in my best neener-neener voice: Idaho is prettier than Utah.

Where else but an Idaho Lodgepole Pine Forest could you hide in the forest while dancing in the light?

And where else could you have a cabin by the lake, with dozens of trees between you and the water, and still have a view of the blue?

With the Olsen Clan came The Mister's grandparents, Grandma Darling and Grandpa Jack. Like me, Grandpa Jack is a born and bred Idahoan, and so that makes him extra special to me. After the recent passing of my last living grandparent, I am left to transfer all the last conversations, acts of service, collecting of garden knowledge that I wish the adult Mrs. Olsen was able to have with her biological grandparents onto my grandparents by marriage. Nothing could be easier, because they are beautiful people.

As a former Stake President, Seminary Teacher, Temple President, and professional counselor, there's something about associating with Grandpa Jack. With every person he meets, he genuinely loves them. Like other intimidating holy men, he has laser vision.

Or so it seems.

Both he and Grandma tell me over and over what a wonderful wife and mother I am. There are times when I look into their eyes, I look away in fear that they will see that I sometimes lose my temper, fart under the covers, argue with my husband, and cuss under my breath when my garden goes to weeds.

More than once I have left Grandpa's house and wondered (and hoped) if I could really, I mean really, be as good as he thinks I am. I'm not talking just about a good mom doing her duty to her kids and family. I mean really good. Like the kind of good that lifts, blesses, and makes it back to heaven. And this is not me fishing for comments on the blog okay? Don't you ever wonder these things?

Grandpa Jack often looks at my little Vanilla Wafer and comments how much he looks like Grandpa did as a kid.

And I hope that all the years of hard work, the love of mankind to the point of serving them for free...for decades, the faith, the endurance, and the pure love embodied by Grandpa will somehow transfer to my offspring.

Like my Idaho Lodgepole Pine Forest, Grandpa practices a transference of light. Who else can you hang out with over a weekend and bask in warm delightful love of God?

Here's some more photos from our weekend of fun:

More transference of light from Herm and Norma, who I love love love. Thanks for the cabin getaway!

Herding cats.

River run.

Cautious smiles from my cautious boy. On the river with Grandpa Herm-Daddy.

My favorite girl.

"Smile with your teeth"

My Idaho. My Trees. Perty sunburst.

Before the boat showed up to take us on a river run, here's how we played in the water...or near the water.

Oh sorry, Yellowstone spiritually claimed by Idaho. Better luck next time.

Old Faithful = excited tension.

For an extra two bucks, Rainbow Girl got to hide food for da bears!

Hiding spot under the rock.

Found by "Spirit"

People training. Mrs. Olsen wanted to edit this poster so the female had a thought burst that said: Is HE ever happy?! First he swaps our 10 pound infant for 3 shoulder bags, a picnic blanket, and car keys and now his panties are in a wad over a kid who's excited to see a bear.

Sorry folks. The tetons also spiritually claimed by Idaho. Better luck next time.

More transference of light. My beautiful momma.


LGH said...

What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful grandparent.

And, yes, you truly are as good as he idle compliment...just truth here, dear Amber!

paula said...

Gee....I'd be afraid to meet the Grandpa...I'm much too hormonal and angry these days. Pregnancy....need I say more?

Seriously, beautiful pics and beautiful tribute to a great family. You're lucky.

trieste said...

I am pretty sure the mullet guy is in our stake. Not kidding. I use to be an Idaho girl too. Grew up on the sweetest little dead end street called K street. Went to Kennedy Elementary. I like Idaho, but found my heart in Colorado...

Angenette said...

Great pix. Great memories.

Mrs. Olsen said...

Paula, you wouldn't be afraid to meet G-pa. Laser vision of love.

Trieste...your Idaho sounds like my Idaho. You lived in Rexburg? ps i'm glad you found your heart.

Kimberly Davis said...

Mr. Mullet is from Wisconsin, I'd bet my life on it! We live in Mullet capitol of the world!

I think you need to plan a trip to Wisconsin and visit!!! It would be hilarious, I would even send some cows home with you to add to your chickens!

Wade and Marilyn said...

What a beautiful post.