Thursday, July 14, 2011

THE OTHER SIDE OF CLOUDS

Just about all of us, at one time or another, have played that game where you try to find cloud forms that look like objects, animals or faces. Right? Half the fun is trying to describe what we see to someone else—someone who may have a completely different interpretation.

And there’s more to clouds than their shapes. Their swirls, wisps and whorls paint the skies in telling styles: cirrus and stratus, contrail and cumulus.


Each tells a different story, foretelling what clear skies never divulge: the gathering storm, sailors’ delight or plight. Tinted red and gold by setting or rising sun, clouds stun us with their beauty. When excited, they swell gray and black in rising warm air, and then, pierced by lightning, shower their gifts of rain and ions on the expectant earth.

Take a different point of view and it's like seeing clouds as if for the very first time.

But, like just about any aspect of Nature, we tend to see only one facet of the magnificence of clouds. Take a different point of view and it's like seeing clouds as if for the very first time.

TIPTOEING THROUGH POOLS OF LIGHT
When I fly, I like a window seat, especially when taking off on a rainy day. I love that moment when we break through the clouds to clear sky and sun. It’s the epitome of escapism, as if it were my spirit given wing, rising through a billowy white down comforter from my still-sleeping body.



On darker nights, I tiptoe through pools of warm, golden light where cities shine through.

Once I’m above the clouds, I surrender myself to a panorama of wonders limited only by the horizon of my imagination. I soar between peaks of cloud “mountains.” I look for real mountains poking up through the clouds, the view of their summits reserved that day just for me. At night, I bathe in the cool glow of moonlight on the cloudscape below. Or, on darker nights, I tiptoe through pools of warm, golden light where cities shine through.

A LOOMING MONSTER
Last year I was flying home from the East Coast. It was nearly dark and we were over central Wisconsin. I noticed we were approaching an immense thunderhead on my side of the aircraft. I felt the plane’s size and mine shrink as we approached the still-rising monster and I realized it towered above our 35,000-foot cruising altitude.



I felt the plane’s size and mine shrink as we approached the still-rising monster

Spots of flickering light dappled the surface of the looming mass, betraying the violence deep within. At any given instant there would be three or four lightening flashes. I watched, transfixed, as we passed, gradually turning, then craning my neck back until I could no longer see the light show through the window behind me. (I learned later that this storm—so beautiful from above—had spawned a series of tornadoes that proved deadly for those on the ground.)

NOTE: As we passed the storm, I’d looked around me a couple of times at my fellow travelers. I like to do this, to see how other people react to things. I guess I was also looking for some validation of what I’d been seeing, someone to share the moment with. Alas, some were reading, a few watched DVDs, others slept. Not one was looking out the window. I felt sorry for them…and blessed.

4 comments:

Bebbi said...

Loved this blog, I love clouds!

Jeffrey Willius said...

Thanks, Bebbi -- I'm guessing you choose the window seat when you fly?

Olivia said...

Last night my boyfriend and I turned off the television and went to watch the moon rise from behind a bank of low clouds. We watched as the moon illuminated the tops of each, turning what was pure darkness into a three-dimensional Wonder of silvers and grays and blinding white.

Jeffrey Willius said...

How nice, Olivia! That sounds beautiful. It was an amazing moon last night -- one day past full stage -- and here in MN anyway, it was golden as it rose above the hot, steamy forest horizon.
I love the way you keep your eyes -- and spirit -- open!

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