“The Bluesky Chamber of Commerce brochure boasts 273 sunny days each year. Nestled in the central mountains of Arizona, Bluesky has the ideal climate. Residents enjoy temperatures ten to twenty degrees cooler than the desert cities and four picture-perfect seasons. Even on rainy days, the clouds are not able to hold on for long but are soon pushed out of sight by the bluest blue sky imaginable. Yes, there are snowy days in the winter, but by three in the afternoon, the snow seems to have vaporized into thin air, without even a trace of mud to indicate the ground had once been covered with a powdery blanket of white.” (From Seven is a Perfect Number)
It may seem that Bluesky is too good to be true, but actually that is a fairly accurate description of the climate here in Chino Valley, Arizona. When people who have never been here think of Arizona, they often picture a vast desert with saguaro cactus and rattle snakes. In fact our state has much more than that to offer. Here in the central mountains, we have tall ponderosa pines, grasslands, and chaparral.
Bluesky is actually based on Prescott Valley, Arizona of the 1980s. When we moved there in 1983, it was a very small town with just a few thousand residents. Nearly everyone lived on a dirt road and our mail was general delivery. My son, who was twelve at the time, was in heaven. He roamed far and wide, discovering Lynx Creek and an old house that he called “the castle.”
Most travelers hurried through Prescott Valley on their way to Prescott. One landmark they would have seen was a boat house, a strange sight on the prairie. A popular place was the Jack Ass Bar. Prescott Valley was originally named “Jack Ass Acres,” because of the wild burros that roamed there at one time. When we moved to Prescott Valley, pronghorn antelope shared the grasses in the middle of town with the Fain’s cattle.
Bluesky is a more developed version of Prescott Valley. The streets are paved and there are sidewalks. The pond that was at the end of our street became Holiday Lake in the Handy Helper books. Michael, my son, spent much of his time at that pond, collecting specimens and bringing them home. His sister’s splash pool was filled with dirty water and held his collection.
While the Handy Helpers could live in any town in America, I’m glad they live in Bluesky. The people there look out for one another. The Handy Helpers are welcomed and encouraged to pitch in and do their part.
I named the town Bluesky in honor of the splendid backdrop God paints for us every day here in the central highlands. But there is more. I like to think of blue sky as a metaphor for second chances. It reminds me of a slate being wiped clean so that we can start over. In A Rocky Start, Amber tells Spike, “. . . forgiveness is a gift that is freely given, not because we deserve it. But to accept forgiveness, we have to forgive ourselves first.” That’s what blue sky means to me. We all make mistakes and come up short, but we have to forgive ourselves and start over.
The Handy Helper series is available on amazon.