Head in the clouds

I love clouds. Love them. And not just the insanely cute fluffy marshmallow puffs in the sky. All of them. I love clouds that are dark and stormy, airy and wispy, flat and grey. I love them all.

I have a theory on why.

When I was in college, I befriended a group of exchange students from the UK. Ireland to be precise. And they were enthralled with the cloudless blue skies of Nevada. I’ve always lived in Nevada, my entire life. Even though I now live in the Southern half, the sky is pretty much the same. Desert blue.

To me, seeing a clear sky with nothing but blue from horizon to horizon was nothing new. That’s normal. Sure, we get clouds and storms, but they don’t stick around long. While Mark Twain was speaking of New England when he said, “If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes”, this is an adage you’ll hear quite often in Nevada too. It is an apt description of how quickly weather can change here.

 

Once I became aware that blue skies (smiling at me) weren’t the norm in many parts of the world, my obsession with the fluffiness began. Or did it?

Did anyone else used to cloud watch when you were little? There is something so soothing about watching clouds drift by. To lie on the grass and picture whole worlds above you. Perhaps that’s really when my love affair took root. As a little girl, on the grass, imagining outrageous shapes in the sky. It’s a hard habit to break, and even today I still find myself looking for animals and creatures made of clouds.

As I travel around, I notice that other areas are more consistent in their sky cover.

England had a solid slab of grey almost the entire time I was there. Small snippets of blue would peak out to remind you of sunnier days. I didn’t mind the constant clouds though. It did make me realize why my friends were so amazed at the dazzling sun filled days. And, it helped me appreciate the beautiful blue just a tiny bit more.

In Hawaii I saw sun and clouds and rain throughout the day. A beautiful morning can lead to afternoon showers to clear up and show you the infinite stars. I like a flowing sky, ebbing and flowing as we spin.

Many parts of California can have sun filled skies as easily as cloudy ones. Oregon, Washington, Texas, Colorado all have their own consistent weather patterns too. But clouds don’t seem as sparse. Maybe it’s my timing. Brief visits anywhere can create an illusion of consistency that doesn’t really exist.

I don’t know if I would tire of clouds if I lived in a more volatile climate. Clouds in Las Vegas mean reprieve from the heat. They can also on occasion bring rain. Rainy afternoons are quite normal in many states and parts of the world. And that’s one more reason I think I love clouds.

Rain in the desert is a special event. Rain here means life. The entire desert changes colors with every small downpour. Sage brush turns lush and green with tiny pink and orange and red blooms. Flowers open on cacti, introducing a riot of yellow and orange and red to the pallet. Everything looks greener with the dust rinsed off. And, water brings out the wildlife to play.

Desert sunrises and sunsets are spectacular in their own right. But, add some clouds to really catch the color and the sky simply explodes. They are breathtaking. Clouds catch the sun and ignite the sky. Every second the colors shift and change, going from brilliant reds to the deepest purples and only to reverse the order to welcome the next day. You fall asleep and wake up to an artists brush streaking across the stratosphere.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful blue sky. A day when you can look in any direction and see nothing but infinite space is stunning. I will admit though, that they are more appreciable in the winter months. It’s hard to bask in the glory of that endless sky when you feel like you’re being cooked alive.

Clear winter blue skies are tricky. At least with a cloudy sky you can better predict the temperature. In the desert, even in the middle of winter a clear day can mean ranges anywhere from freezing cold to moderately warm. It’s nice to not feel blistering heat, but it’s also a cruel trick to be so bright and beautiful and so cold at the same time.

It could be worse. I know that. I’m sure if I lived in a city that saw mountains of snow, and blizzards, tornados or hurricanes I would not begrudge a cold, cloudless day. I’m sure I would welcome those days with open arms. They just don’t feel quite as wintery to me as one filled with clouds.

Maybe it’s that I don’t see as many clouds as I would like. That to leave the house and see art in the sky is a special occasion rather than a main occurrence. They draw my eyes up and here is part of the magic. Because when you look up, you dream, at least I do. And dreaming is an art lost on so many of us.

Sometimes it’s the small gestures that spark our momentum. We use symbols all the time to help encapsulate what we want, who we want to be, what we want to do. To imagine, to dream, to create. All of these things require a spark, a tiny nudge off the cliff of reality to plummet into the depths of impossible.

In the end, I don’t think I really care why I love clouds, only that I do. Whether they bring rain or reprieve from the heat or just some pretty decorations in the sky. Utility combined with beauty is the perfect blend. Clouds, to me, will always be just a touch of magic in the sky.

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