The lyrics “What a Difference a Day Makes” became an earworm song in my brain on Friday (Sept. 9). What prompted the stuck tune syndrome was the bright blue sky just “24 little hours” after the worst air quality of the year for the Methow Valley, Mazama especially.
Our little HEPA air purifier — so graciously given to so many families in the Methow Valley last year by Instant Brands — glared red with the bad air. I call her Cruella (as in Deville) when she stares out with her angry red eyes. The sun was shining blood red, too, through the thick yellow smoke.
By Friday morning, just as predicted with the change in the wind direction, Cruella settled down and her bloodshot eyes cleared up with improved air quality of 99%. The sun shone brightly and the sky was brilliant blue. What a difference …
The song kept playing in my brain even after I had thoroughly acknowledged that Friday was completely different from Thursday. I thought about so many things that change in 24 little hours and wondered about the complete lyrics to the song.
Maria Grever, a Mexican songwriter, originally wrote the song in Spanish in 1934, and it was recorded in Spanish that same year. (My mother — RIP — was in eighth grade!) Stanley Adams wrote the English lyrics also in 1934, and the Dorsey Brothers recorded the most successful early version. Dozens of singers have recorded the song —- the most well-known was Dinah Washington’s Grammy Award winning version in 1959. In the song, a lonely and blue person’s world changes “since you said you were mine.”
There are so many happy changes in 24 little hours, but I had to reflect on how bad things happen that change a person’s life forever in just 24 hours. In the past few weeks, I thought about the two Spokane girls who were heading to a sunrise ceremony for seniors at East Valley High School and turned in front of a garbage truck to lose their lives. I thought about the Memphis schoolteacher who went for an early morning run and was viciously murdered. Then, the 10 folks on the float plane that were returning from fun things on the San Juan Islands ended up at the bottom of the bay. All those left behind in these tragedies must reel with the shock of the difference a day makes.
For Kiwanians, the flurry of Duck Days and Duck Race successfully ended on Labor Day. The next day all the exhausted ducks lay on the lawn to dry out and Kiwanians exhaled, “I don’t want to hear the word ‘duck’ for another year!” What a difference …
I take the liberty to extrapolate a little further — what a difference a year makes. The Mazama courtyard was filled with happy folks on Saturday (Sept. 10) night. There were tired runners after the Cutthroat Classic, PCT hikers, locals, and end-of-summer visitors gathered to eat tacos and listen to music. Such a difference from the somber masked quiet of the pandemic years.
As I’ve said before, one of the pleasures of writing this column is being recognized and approached by regular readers. Such was the case when “Jack” approached me in the Mazama courtyard and commented on my writing. As always, I said, “If you have a story, I’m always looking for one.”
A few minutes later he came over to say, “It’s not a story, but it’s interesting.” Living up Lost River with a view of Fun Rock, he and his wife noticed one night what they thought was a bright star until they realized it was a nighttime climber with a headlamp way up one of the routes on the rock face. The unknown factor was a green laser that was beaming up to the climber. He (and I) wonder what that laser was for.
As everyone has a story, it was a pleasure to hear Jack’s story of being a science teacher through the COVID years. He recalls thinking in March 2020, “Well, we might be out of school for a week.” We all thought that, didn’t we? The rest of that school year was topsy-turvy with everyone trying to figure out teaching via Zoom (which no one even knew existed). The next year of online learning, he said, had its positive factors. The students who did show up were the ones who really wanted to learn. Sadly, the percentage was small. But, still, we have to appreciate those teachers who rallied and worked with what they had. My husband, who was in public education for 40 years, said, “Jack was a good teacher. I could see it in his eyes.”