Homesick for the Night Skies

by Judy Safford

Being from Indiana, I never saw much of the night sky. Streets are lined with too many trees. Too many gray days and cloud filled nights hovered over our little mid-west town. In the 40’s and 50’s, we marched to rules at home, church and school. Too much time spent tip toeing through life like a zombie, looking downward, lest I be visible and disapproved.

“Watch where you’re going.”

“Be home before dark.”

Street lights blocked out what may have been seen, if I’d ever thought to look upward, that is. Don’t get me wrong, spring and fall are beautiful when blossoming with gorgeous fall reds and yellows before the chill of winter’s cold and snow and ice. Oh, the thought of ice packed grooved roads make me shiver with memories I’d rather forget.

In 1984, I took the leap and drove 997 miles to my sister’s home in Colorado, escaping mid-west black and white life. It became my time to explore a different life, one that allows looking up toward the new skies unsaturated with troubled cloudy memories.At one point on my journey, I-70 took me to a point of a panoramic view of real mountains. There were no mountains in my old hometown. I could barely breathe in the scene. They looked like a cowboy cardboard movie backdrop with a paper moon. The skyline of the city, blackened by nightfall, seemed to be a mix of stair steps leading up, part way down and up again.

By dawn’s light, I saw the richness of a blue cloudless sky; the sun was clear, full and blinding bright.

Day after day the stunning yellow sun rose and set and rose again; the mountains stayed in their proud positions of royalty. At nightfall, the sky awakened. My eyes feasted on the milky way display, a sliver of the moon and all its closer friendly stars lighting up the sky. Fixated at the wonder of the star show before me, I sighed a smile at all the beauty I had missed for 42 years of my existence.

Home, at last, and free from the homesickness I never knew was true. I vowed never to leave Colorado, and to my surprise, life summoned me to New Mexico. Here, in the little eclectic colony of 350 people, there are no sky-scrapers or traffic lights. Arms out-stretched, I turn full circle. North, south, east and west surround me with mountains, pure dark skies, dancing stars. Homesick no more.

We could use a few clouds and rain from time to time, like now.

by Judy Safford...

Philip Brautigam
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