Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see
-“Blue Skies” by Irving Berlin
I take an obscene amount of sky pictures. If you are friends with me on Facebook or Instagram, you will see several of my celestial observations in full color. Even my daughter is in on the act. She woke me up last Saturday morning at daybreak to tell me that Grammy painted pictures in the sky for me to see. Her Grammy, my mother, died in 2016, so it was especially touching for her to make that observation.
Why the sky? I guess I have always been looking up.
In our childhood, we took a lot of road trips. Dad didn’t (and still doesn’t) like to fly. So, we would hit the road. On these trips, my brother would have his nose in a book the whole ride. I would be so jealous of him because if I read in the car, I’d wind up throwing up in the appointed garbage bag, affectionately known as the “barf bag”, my mom always brought with us. You see, car sickness ran rampant in my family. My sister would be listening to David Bowie on her Walkman and I would be laying down with the luggage in the way back of the station wagon naming the things I saw in the clouds. “There’s a dog! There’s a bunny! That looks like Uncle George!”
As I got older, I realized the sky gave me two gifts- an instant sense of connection and beauty.
I went on a term abroad when I was in college and taught ESL in graduate school in Hungary for a short time. Even though I was very far away from home, I would look up and picture my family looking at the same sky from our house in upstate New York. It gave me comfort to feel connected to my loved ones, while seeing something familiar in a place so strange to me at the time.
The sky connects us all. We all know what the sky looks like at dawn and dusk. We have an instant recognition of these images in literature and film. Those pink and purple hues seem to quietly wake us up or calmly put us to sleep. The sky puts on quite a show of beauty for everyone. It is a consistent source of light and color on which we can depend.
Many people take the sky for granted. We are frantically conducting the business of our everyday lives while the palette above our heads beckons for attention. It is a practice of mindfulness to pause and observe nature’s entertainment.
Perhaps I have been taking too many sky pictures lately. I find it immensely comforting to be able to access inspiration simply turning my head upward.