Clouds by Jane St. Clair
I love to lie on the ground and look at clouds. It’s not for everyone –there are people who don’t like clouds. How do I know this? Because I’ve seen them look at a bright clear sky and say, “Hooray! Not a cloud in sight!” which is hard for me to understand because some of my best days on this planet have been spent watching clouds. But as Jane Austen wrote, “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.”
Because I’ve spent many lazy days looking skyward, I never agreed with Wordsworth’s “I wandered lonely as a cloud.” Clouds don’t look lonely to me at all. They look as if they are having a great party up there, just dancing along in elaborate formations with all the precision of a medieval cotillion.
I love all kinds of clouds … the slant ones… the big puffy ones … the ones who walk the straight and narrow. Some are little tufts in the sky like playful wafts of smoke from the pipe of an old man amusing his grandchildren, while others form lines so straight and horizontal that they look as if they’ve been drawn from an architect’s red pencil.
I like all the familiar forms a cloud can make and the ones you can imagine that they are– like seahorse and face-in-the-moon clouds … the Puff the Magic Dragon clouds and the ones shaped like ducks and giant caterpillars.
I like the way clouds can take all day to build up to a thunderstorm. I like the way they hide in the crevices of mountains, softening the look of harsh grey rocks, and then emerge like smoke from great smoldering fires within their captors’ deepest cauldrons …only to later light up the sky with a rainbow.
I particularly love the thunderheads you see out West. If you climb up high enough and look down from hundreds of feet so that you can see for miles and miles, you’ll see rain coming from a thunderhead that causes not even a sprinkle just a foot away.
But I do think that even non-cloud people agree that clouds are everything when it comes to fabulous Arizona sunsets. You need those clouds to create those fabulous colors and form those beautiful horizontal patterns like gigantic Navajo rugs in the sky. Otherwise your sunset is just plain vanilla.
And even non-cloud people know that Western landscapes would be dull without them.
Philosopher John Lubbock wrote, “Happiness is a thing to be practiced, like a violin. Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water and watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” Just saying.
Jane St. Clair’s essay “Nowhere Near” appears in the 2016 Fall issue of Ruminate magazine.
The Cloud Appreciation Society has the wonderful mission of uniting cloud appreciators everywhere.