FEATURE – The smell of sagebrush and juniper floated on the mild spring breeze and the low bellowing of cows calling their calves filled the air. It was springtime again, and time to work the calves before herding them up the mountain on horseback to feast on a buffet of wild grass and browse for the summer. I watched my brothers on horseback, their skilled hands roping each calf and pulling them through the gate as my dad, soon 60 but still the toughest cowboy I know, turned them on their side to be vaccinated and marked. My 17-month-old son watched intently and yelled, “Whoa!” each time a calf would jump up and run through the corral to its mother.
My mind flashed back to when I was a little girl, sitting on the same fence I now leaned against, watching the same scenario from underneath an oversized cowboy hat. Back then it was my father, uncles and grandfather doing the work. Five generations of cowboys had literally made their mark on this land and these cows wore the same brand that had been used for 100 years. My grandfather’s great-grandfather left his ranch in Switzerland to come to Southern Utah and help build the temple. He then settled in New Harmony, where generations of cattle and kids were raised and my father now resides.
I remember wandering the grassy fields in New Harmony as a girl, gathering flowers to make hollyhock dolls with my grandmother. I remember playing hide-and-seek in the giant corn stalks of the garden with my cousins, and picking apples from the orchard to feed the horses in the field or make fresh pies and applesauce with. I remember the warm sun on my face and hands as I rode my horse through fields and up mountains, herding cows with my father, brothers and sister or going on trail rides up Pine Valley Mountain.
My heritage on my mother’s side is quite similar; 100 years of ranchers and a legacy of hard workers that left us beautiful acres of mountain land to enjoy. My mother would pack the car every summer and drive us up to the ranch on Cedar Mountain to spend our days catching fish and frogs, running through the aspen trees and swimming in the lake. At night we would sing songs as she played her guitar by the campfire and then fall asleep under the sparkling summer stars.
Southern Utah was my first home, and though as an adult I have lived in other states and traveled to other countries, there is something about this place that I am rooted in, or perhaps is rooted in me. Much like the cattle, my soul is seared with the brand of my forefathers, marked with a sense of belonging to this land, this legacy.
As I plant my own gardens and watch my own son running through the same fields and playing in the same mountain streams that I did as a child, my heart expands in my chest and I can’t help but feel a powerful tie to my ancestors. It’s as though their spirits are near us, watching over us, as we enjoy the beauty and nurture the surroundings that they settled and we continue to cultivate.
Written by Terrin Parker for St. George Health and Wellness magazine and St. George News.
Parker is the associate editor of St. George Health and Wellness magazine and a physical therapist from Cedar City, Utah. She graduated from Loma Linda University in California, and has lived in Denver, San Diego and St. George. She loves to surf, snowboard, write, travel, play the guitar and spend time with her husband and their young son.
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