On Sky

What is the sky to you? A canvas? A foil? An inspiration? An aspiration? A point of inquiry?

When my family moved into our current apartment we gained so much sky: more height, more windows, more light. Throughout the fall, then winter and spring, on days we didn’t go out or went out little, I’ve kept the lights off all day and soaked up through these blessed windows the actuality of sky, as morning creeps toward noon and after. As my daughter plays on the rug, proto-walks, and chews on whatever she can reach, I watch the weather change, track geese and hawks and starlings and butterflies, and recognize the colors of atmosphere.

There’s the white of snow in March and fog in April; the Sunoco blue of twilight, whenever it falls; the clotted cream on blue of afternoons across the year; the full moon perfectly centered in the bedside window.

I recall my catalogue of champion skies: hot pinks and reds, orange and smoky through wizened tops of long-leaf pines, post-burn in Georgia; subway sunsets in the Bronx over Van Cortland Park; tramonti on coastal and riverside promenades in northern Italy. A sunrise over the Atlantic on Georgia’s Sapelo Island. A sunset over the port of Antsohihy, Madagascar, my feet in the water, philosophizing with Peace Corps mates over rum coco punch and pineapple wine. Camping under the biggest, openest sky in Yellowstone Country, Wyoming and Montana.

It has been so long since the days when, legs burning, I would swing up to face her, then plummet back to earth before arcing upward again, over and over and over. How do you like to go up in a swing, up in the air so blue? Oh, I do think it’s the pleasantest thing…ever a child can do.

I am realizing that I haven’t given the sky its due. I have loved her most often as a holder: of birds and butterflies, of moon and snow and rainbow and moonbow and heat lightning and thunderstorm. This warm-season, I plan to notice her for her: to take more heavenly pictures, to spend more time, agendaless, looking skyward.

What skies do you know or remember? What does your home sky look like? What is it telling you?

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4 thoughts on “On Sky

  1. J

    I think I am mildly claustrophobic, and I crave a view of the sky at all times. We did the opposite, downsizing into a townhouse in a wooded holler, and oh my goodness, do I ever appreciate our lone skylight that just happens to open straight up to the unobstructed sky. At work I leave my cave-like minicube (where a 4×6 foot wall mural allows me to gaze at the wide open blue sky yearround), at every break to walk around under the glorious sky, rain or shine, and on a vacation or daytrip, nothing appeals more than a hike to the top or a drive out into the open, as long as there is a lot of sky along the way or once we get there. To sit and look at a vast expanse of sky, whether it is ever changing or simply there, is one of my favorite pastimes. Thanks for recognizing the sky ❤️


  2. Neysa

    Lovely piece, Hilary…thank you! The best thing about walking the short block to my mailbox and back is the chance to peruse the sky. I love clouds and birds and am, no doubt, looking for them first. Now, I will just enjoy my sky, regardless of what’s in it.


  3. The Baja sky was amazing–whether the few cloudy mornings, or light clouds over the ocean or crystal clear blue; the sky always was part of the canvas. And the night sky! Inky black space with thousands of twinkling bits of stars==the universe in my eyes. Loved it all and now loving the Montana grey sky today.


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