At the beginning of this past weekend, the temperatures plummeted into the “I’m not going anywhere unless I really have to” zone, with wind chills of minus forty degrees fahrenheit (-40F). While this time could have been spent baking or inventing new meals, cleaning or starting a new project, instead it was spent watching strange television series, curled up on my bed or couch under a quilt reading library books, and tooling around the internet…..which is where I stumbled upon a group site for people like me who appreciate clouds. Yes, that’s me, big time! I was so excited that for the last few days I have spent a significant amount of the day and evening just admiring and going gaga over other people’s cloud pictures… and then sharing a few of my own.
If anyone ever had the opportunity to scroll through the thousands of photos on my phone or computer, they would find that (along with a few hundred photos of my dog) there are a significant number of photos of cloud-filled skies. My eyes are constantly drawn upwards toward the often curious configurations or dramatic majesty.
Clouds building up on the horizon behind a mountain, peeking behind buildings and over tree lines, billowing from a distance far ahead on the freeways or over bridges, stringing out above and along a river. Topside, as if in heaven, looking down from a plane. They often dominate the picture frame surrounding monuments and tourist attractions, unintentionally becoming the focus. Exciting and dreamy, they fill my head with wonder and heart with magic.
As children, many of us have probably sprawled out on the grass on a summer day and watched the clouds as they moved across the sky above, wondering if the clouds were moving or if we were actually feeling the earth rotate as we lay there. Even now, who can’t help but notice the image of a whale, bunny, dragon, face or heart in the sky? The excitement of thunderheads building, the shifting and darkening before the storm, then letting go as a gray curtain of rain moves toward you from afar.
How wonderous is the cloud iridescence that produces a rainbow of refracted light! Or the eerie finger of a potential cyclone poking from the skies, then retracting, then once again threatening to touch down. A blanket of solid gray on an autumn afternoon, the late day sun lighting up the gold from the trees to create a beautiful contrast. The scattered, glorious glow at sunrise and the grandeur of the palette at sunset.
Many of my cloud photos have small background stories that keep them fixed in memory. One of the most unforgettable – I had just come out of a store and gotten into my car to head home, when I received a phone call that a friend – who was more like a brother – had suddenly and unexpectedly died. While I sat in the parked car in a daze taking the call, suddenly the sky blackened and a wall of massive, dark clouds rose rapidly on the horizon. A violent, terrifying storm ensued, complete with crashing thunder, forks of lightening and rain so loud and intense that you could not see a foot in front of you, making it impossible to drive. So I sat there encapsulated in my car, trapped in the surrealness of it as the storm seemed to encompass all of the emotions…..sat there until the rain slowed enough that I could see to drive home. When the rain finally stopped, I took the dog out for a walk. The puddles were reflecting the fresh, clearing sky and the glow lit up everything all around me. It was incredibly moving and beautiful. I looked up and sent out this thought, “If there is such a thing, then I know you are somewhere good”.
Many interesting clouds are noticed while walking the dog right out on the street. Because the houses are close in the neighborhood, sometimes I have to walk a little ways to see the horizon. It’s always a bit of a challenge trying to take photos while the dog leash is attached to my wrist. Inevitably, just as I am about to take the shot, he will pull towards something that interests him and jiggle my hand. So I have a lot of blurry cloud photos, especially the ones taken at night. This one was as the full super moon was rising in the east. I made him “sit” and “stay” for this picture!
Since there is a burgeoning amount of cloud pics taking up valuable real estate on my devices, I thought sharing a few of my own with the group would be a good way to revisit them. And that maybe I might delete them afterward (so far I haven’t been able to though…) This one that I took in Ireland apparently has generated a lot of attention and humor, giving rise to some witty and pretty hysterical comments.
While a big fan of cumulous clouds and the building cumulonimbus, the stratus, cirrus, and every combination find equal appreciation.
Sometimes there are small wonders in the foggy skies too. After being up all night to witness the birth of a grandchild, I was driving home when this little dash of rainbow appeared. The colors were a lot deeper – by the time I pulled over and took the picture, most of it had faded, but it perfectly embodied the emotions of that moment.
We inhabit such a beautiful, wonderous jewel. Looking up to the clouds is a constant reminder, a natural, free gift. To me, this is religion.