Sunday, February 1, 2009

Skies Not Cloudy

Here's my latest column at Blue Mountain Moments: An Acquired Skill.
Enjoy! [Note: Link expired when replaced by most recent column; article is pasted below.]

An Acquired Skill

Staying at home with young children during this time of year – when one’s skin hurts from a lack of Vitamin D – is a finely honed, acquired skill. A craft, really. An art, quite often, unrecognized.

Sure, you could do it in a “low-road” manner and suffer through these final snows with a scowl and a fiercely abused remote control. Sure, you could schlep the kiddies to the market again and again just to GET OUT – “Yahoo! We need mothballs! … ” Or you could do what Great Aunt Lucille and Grandma Mary Martha did back before minivans toured these roads – develop the art of just staying in.

First, turn off the TV. Next, for a change of scenery, run to the most rarely traveled spot of your home -- for us it’s the attic bedroom. Upon arrival, distribute old silk handkerchiefs that ripple (a cape) and rustle (a maiden’s headdress) as they flow through the air. After that, let your kids take the lead.

Be their fairy godmother or their wicked witch. Follow them wherever wintry winds leaking through windowpanes lead them. Because, while I would certainly choose a sunny day at the park over a snowy day in the attic any day, I’d wager cold is the weather of poets. I’d wager if ever a time could make a soul turn inward and thus discover something new – a play waiting to be written – a sonata waiting to be sung – it’s when the world is covered in white, white snow.

I’ll never forget the winter when one upstairs adventure culminated in hours of bellowing the song Home on the Range. I fondly remember carrying a baby room to room while my other tots jumped high on the beds. The world beyond our windows was iced like gingerbread as we sang: Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the dear and the antelope play … Where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day …

The tune became such a hit in our repertoire that I even painted its words as a boarder in that attic bedroom. “Sing Skies Not Cloudy,” my four-year-old demands as he long ago, quite appropriately, renamed the song. I always comply. And as I stroll our creaky floors, the melody puts a spring in my step. So I sing louder. My son chimes in as he gallops on his broomstick stallion. The other day the chorus inspired a leap from the bed. His cape sliced the air like a whip. I caught a glimpse of the sky in his eyes and it was a brilliant summer’s blue – not a cloud in sight.

-- Sarah Johnson

Sarah can be emailed at


Cherie said...

What a great picture. (And article!)

I just realized I never responded to your email. Correspondence is not a strength of mine...

Well, that and the four kids keep me busy!

Sarah said...

Hi My Hero,

FYI: Mothers of newborn twins need not apologize for a lack of correspondence.

Except you really should update your blog as I check it everyday and am happy to see your smiling son but would love to see your other smiling son and daughter and other daughter sometime soon.

Be well.


abigail said...

I'm a big fan.

(And I'm crossing my fingers for Highlights!)

Art Teacher said...

I am often convicted about the hours I waste away reading about other people (or the hours I spend re-reading my posts only to find multiple spelling and grammatical errors), but in this case the time wasting paid off. I feel like a made a new friend! Thank you for the compliment about Libby and for stalking me back! It made my day!
God bless you, and your sweet family.

Andy said...

Great picture of Haven, wow! What did you take it with?

Sarah said...

Thanks for the compliment on the picture, Andy. Good pictures from my camera come from luck as the camera is a Walmart special and I'm horrible about even picking it up.

However, I found the shot magical and was so happy to have captured Haven in his cape and his blue footed pj's.