It was a dark and stormy night, and day, and night ...

OK, who's the sky thief? Who took Nevada's bright blue sky? For the last seven days, as this is written, we have had rain in Northern Nevada. Every now and then a weak blue peeks through, but most of the time it has been cloud after cloud after cloud, rain, hail, sleet and even snow in Virginia City.

This has got to be the work of a criminal of the worst order. Maybe someone like the Penguin, the Joker or the Riddler in those old Batman cartoons. Steal the sky, cause mass depression leading to a total lack of good sense, rush buying of the evildoers' mortgage-based securities, providing riches to the crooks and causing bankruptcy for everyone else. Everyone goes broke and then the evil-doing trio gets to be a nasty troika and rule the world.

OK, that's a bit far-fetched. But the beauty of the Nevada sky is such that one can go nuts when it is taken away.

One of the many things I love about this state is the near-constant blue sky. And in Virginia City, above the smog enveloping the more developed areas, it's a deeper, brighter, often completely uninterrupted blue.

As opposed to the often completely uninterrupted gray of the overcast skies I grew up looking at in Pittsburgh.

Even when there are clouds in Nevada, there are usually only a few, so that in the evening during the sunset they cause incredibly beautiful red, pink and orange shapes to flash across the sky.

I tried to describe that beauty for my relatives back in Pittsburgh, but couldn't. Words don't do it justice.

In Pittsburgh, overcast is normal. Even on so-called sunny days there are often a few rain clouds, leading to the unusual sight of the sun shining through a thunderstorm.

I suppose that happens everywhere at least once in a while, but it happened about three days a week in Pittsburgh. Being outside sometimes felt like being in an enormous room with a dingy ceiling.

Not that Pittsburgh is a bad place. It's all right, as Eastern cities go, especially since they cleaned up the air. But several Great Lakes about 100 miles north means there will always be some level of precipitation.

Of course, all that moisture does have benefits; Pennsylvania has tons of green - grass, trees, bushes, everything but money. You can have a lush green lawn and never have to water it. There's no such thing as water rights, water conservation, water protests.

There's actually so much water that the officials aren't sure what to do with it all, and flooding is as feared there as fire is here.

But green doesn't look as good with gray as a backdrop, so when I came to Nevada, I didn't mind the brown plants as long as I could see that blue sky.

Rain now will mean the brown desert will be green, at least for awhile, and wildlife will flourish, at least for awhile. But now I'm used to the dry.

My husband likes to tell a joke, where he'll stand very still and stare at the sky as though in shock.

"What's this?" he asks.

"I don't know, what?" I dutifully reply.

"A Nevadan that's been hit by a raindrop."

A friend in the Bay area gave me an umbrella for Christmas one year, and I didn't have the heart to tell her I may never use it. Despite the recent rain, I still haven't used it. One thing living in Pittsburgh taught me is you won't melt if you get rained on.

But I want my blue sky back. Someone call the Caped Crusaders, before it's too late.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or call 881-7351.


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