Heaven’s beautiful paintbrush
My son Doug was driving me to town last week on a cold but beautiful day. As I looked up at the sky, it appeared as if God had taken a huge paintbrush, stroking huge patches of white clouds, running left to right across our gorgeous blue Nevada sky.
I wonder, often, if those of you who were born and raised here have any idea just how fortunate you are to live in such a wonderful, perfect place? Try living in a row house in Philadelphia where you don’t even think about looking skyward. You’re too busy making sure you get across the street safely. Perhaps I shouldn’t talk about “crossing the street safely” with some of the drivers we have on the road?
Little humor here, folks; we just got back for another trip to town and almost got clobbered by some jackass driving a three-quarter ton truck. Thinking of our beautiful sky, I remembered when I moved to Nevada in the early 1970s with my husband Van. We came first from Southern California — no doubt about the beautiful skies there – and then spent seven years in Fresno.
Van had been stationed there while in the Marines. He loved the mountains and lakes that are so close to Fresno, and simply had to move there to have the time, now that he was retired, to fish any time he wanted. We lived in our new home for over six months, just outside of town on an acre, before I realized that you could actually see the mountains in the distance.
That whole area is great for growing vegetables; however the heat, dense fog and mist that all too often covers this area, was often unbearable. It was a constant problem for me, and I was thrilled when Van said yes to our moving to Nevada onto five acres in Lyon County. Van sometimes thought I was crazy. I kept a number of those cheap cameras and constantly went outside to take photos of the sky.
To prove it, I have an entire picture album of Nevada skies. Every once in awhile I get them out to remember those beautiful days, and the joy I felt at being privileged to live there. I know you’ve all seen tons of pictures showing the assorted beautiful spots in the United States, and some of you perhaps as lucky as I to have actually viewed them first hand.
There’s something special about living somewhere wonderful at a certain time in our lives that beats looking at a mere photograph. In Fort Myers Beach, Fla., during World War Two, the other wives and I spent a lot of time on the beach looking out over the Gulf of Mexico, as our husbands were training at the military base. Fancy birds in films actually play in the surf, adding to the beauty of the gulf.
As for the sky most of the time — when we looked out over the water — it was to check for the many planes stationed at Buckingham and Prat fields where our husbands were stationed. All too often there would be the sound of a Coast Guard cutter going out to rescue a crew or a single pilot who hadn’t made it safely back to base.
It was wartime, and we were all keenly aware of the danger those brave men faced while learning to fly fighter planes and bombers. Here, out West what’s amazing, are the enormous mountain ranges with an assortment of views you find when looking at one range or the other. Coming from the east I remember the tree covered, softly rolling mountains. They have assorted names but all look a great deal like each other.
Not so as you head west. My sons and I often talk about what it was like to see the huge mountain ranges as we traveled westward almost 3,000 miles by car in 1964. Mouths open, we gasped at the spires of tree filled hills that are all over the west. My favorite memory is the trip Van and I took with friends from Lowman, Idaho to Stanley, seeing the Sawtoooths for the first time.
That bitter cold December day in 1983 was the only time my beloved Van would enjoy this trip. Sadly, he passed away in March 1984. Now I live here, and each time I look at our gorgeous Nevada skies, certain that I know — God has taken a paintbrush and painted the sky.
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org