My friend approached with his dog at his side.
“What a beautiful day,” I said.
His dog pauses, standing beside him as he stops.
“Yes,” my friend said. “My aunt called these Big Blue days.”
“Really?” I said.
“Yes, she said any day absent of clouds for the entire day was called a Big Blue,” he said. “She also said Big Blue days were special and did not count against your allotted days on Earth. A bonus day, so to speak.”
I looked up where a deep blue canopy filled any available canvas above the tree line. The sky was as if the universe had only a single color to use, that being a deep, rich blue designed to reward all inhabitants below.
My friend laughed.
“You know,” he said, “I was a kid, and she was probably telling me a story. But the best part is all these years later, whenever I see a Big Blue day, I think of her. And that’s really pretty cool.”
My friend’s story got me thinking of how we, as parents, pass along well-meaning stories to the next generation. We know there is little chance science will prove us out, but we tell them anyhow. But in doing so, we pass along our voices — and the memory — into the future.
I remember how my mother, sitting on the front steps, would predict the weather by reading the sunset’s colors.
“Red sky at night, sailor’s delight,” she would say. “Red sky at morn, sailors take warn.”
She grew up along the North Atlantic Ocean. I never questioned her advice or expertise. Even years later, as a teacher explained how moisture reacts to light as the sun crosses the horizon, I could hear my mother’s voice. She, as my friend said, was in the classroom with me.
In a world filled with a YouTube video for about any possible problem, I continue to find the stories shared by earlier generations to be timeless, the sayings essential.
I still hear my dad’s voice from decades ago, me beneath a V-8 motor wresting to loosen the oil filter. Armed with an empty bread bag to catch any extra oil as the filter slipped out, he’d coach from above.
“Righty tighty, lefty loosey,” he said.
I can still feel the seal breaking loose, the filter falling into the bread bag, the last drippings of warm oil pooling into the bottom of the plastic. Success never felt so good.
Or how my mom would predict the start of spring by when daffodils began breaking through the last of winter’s snowfall. Nowadays, I realize she had the calendar on her side, but I still hear her voice at the sight of the first yellow blooms. And that makes me happy inside.
But after visiting with my friend, we enjoyed four consecutive days before the first cloud appeared. Four free days, so said his aunt. But for me, I now hear my friend’s voice — and the magical journey continues.