Silver Valley Girl gave us siblings this assignment to write:
"Write about specific things you remember about being at Grandma West's house during the summer."
Inland Empire Girl wrote a moving poem about Grandma's sunroom, here. Silver Valley Girl might write hers when our family vacations at Rockaway Beach. She's got a lot going on!
Our Grandma West lived in Orofino, Idaho, close to the buzzing urban center. Orofino may have buzzed, what with logging trucks barreling to and from local mills and sportsmen loading up their coolers with Schmidt beer and nightcrawlers and heading out to the rivers and creeks of Clearwater County and citizens scurrying in and out of the county courthouse to secure marriage license, license plates, or pay their property taxes, but once night fell, Orofino fell silent and the lights went out.
There was no light pollution in Orofino, Idaho.
Stars began to dot the Orofino sky around 9:30 on August nights, just about the time of our curfew, about the time Molly and Mary and Liz and Craig and the rest of us had to wrap up our games of hide and seek or Red Rover, Red Rover and about the time the humidity began to lift and we scrambled into the house for permission to sleep outside.
I loved sleeping outside in the Stanley's backyard, next door to Grandma.
I loved settling down in a sleeping bag, resting after a morning of playing Monopoly in the Stanley's living room, going upstairs and listening to Liz and Mary's new records, an afternoon of swimming in Orofino pool, and an evening of screaming and giggling, running around, playing games.
Liz was the oldest and she told great ghost stories.
Or else we told stories about our lives, what happened in Orofino during the school year and what it was like living in Kellogg.
Before long, our attention turned to the sky. None of us knew the constellations. We just marveled at the Milky Way and loved it when the Big Dipper came out and someone knew how to find the North Star and knew that it was at the end of the Little Dipper.
Some nights, a satellite would crawl from one end of the sky to the other and meteors would race above us and, on some wondrous nights, we'd be treated to meteor showers.
I don't remember talking about God and the splendors of heaven, but I sure thought a lot about God and sometimes I'd think I could see a face in the stars and the thought that God returned my gaze comforted me. The God of the heaven of the Orofino sky on an August night was the God of ease and gentle delight, a God I could believe was the architect of the heaven that blazed above me.
Comforted, relaxed, refreshed, reassured, serene, dazzled, the cool night air easing me to sleep, I slept deeply, free of the tossing and turning of sleeping in the hot front room at Grandma's.
Memories of sleeping under the stars of Orofino are among my most peaceful. I wanted it be nighttime under the sky forever, but the morning sun didn't cooperate. Around six in the morning, about the time Grandma began watering and harvesting her garden, the sun woke us up and we needed more sleep, so we staggered into the house and flopped on a bed and got more sleep.
It seemed cruel.
To this day, I want a cloud cover every summer day to spare me the glare and the heat of the sun.
To this day, I want the clouds to disappear at night and the stars to blanket the sky.
But here, near downtown Eugene, the light pollution obscures the stars. I go out in my backyard and I hardly know stars exist.
I'm left to remember.