When I was young enough to have to reach up to hold my father's hand, he told me about the companion star
of the Big Dipper. Or, more accurately, the companion star of the second-star-in on the handle of the Big Dipper
If you look closely at that second-star-in (also called Mizar), you can see next to it a tiny, tiny, very far-away star. This is what my dad directed my eyes upward to find. He told me that the Native Americans used to use that star as an eye test. If you could not see that star, your vision was bad, at least for seeing far. I always thought that was pretty cool, and I loved it that he knew so many things.
I still remember standing there, staring up at the sky. I felt safe and happy, and like I had very good eye-sight. In my memory, I am wearing shorts and the pink shirt with the flowers on it. I am holding my dad's hand, which is calloused, the deep lines in it filled with chalk from hanging sheetrock all day. We stand there like Mizar and his companion, breathing in the warmth and beauty of the night.