Friday, August 8, 2008

Cloud Watching

How’s this for a low cost activity… grab a beverage, pull up a lawn chair and gaze up at the sky.

I consider myself to fairly observant of my surroundings, including natural splendor. I’ve been known to stop whatever I’m doing just to admire the color of a flower, the crisp quietness of a well manicured golf course, or the beauty of a sunset over Lake Michigan. But other than trying to see animal shapes in clouds when I was a kid, and the occasional cumulus filled summer sky, I’ve never considered myself a cloud watcher.

That has changed since living in Tucson. Since being here there’s hardly been a day when I haven’t glanced up at the sky and said to no one in particular: “Wow.”

It’s not that Michigan didn’t have clouds for me to admire. That’s one thing that Michigan has in abundance. Clouds. Or to be more exact, cloud cover. The winters there consist of six months of continuous, cold, gray, skies. It is, as a matter of fact, one of the cloudiest states in the U.S., with a 46% chance of seeing the sun on any particular day.

No, clouds I’ve seen. But Tucson clouds are different than Michigan clouds. They seem sharper, brighter, closer. There can be much more contrast as well, depending on the type of sky making it’s appearance over Tucson. Deep, dark grays to the east, while bright whites hover to the north and west. And there are almost always patches of blue sky reminding you that these floating visitors are temporary.

Like most giants, these white and gray behemoths have power. Not only to instantly turn a quiet, dry boulevard into a dangerous and impassable river. The clouds can also cast wide shadows over the mountains surrounding Tucson, or even conceal them completely, making even the mountains seem small by comparison.

I’m sure being a much higher elevation than Michigan helps explain clouds looking closer, (because they probably are!) But whatever the reason, the effect is similar to watching a movie on your television, or watching a movie at a theater. You just can’t help but be impressed by the sheer scope of it.

Of course I am writing this during the monsoon season, so this beautiful canvas of blue, white, and gray may disappear with the summer rains. But I plan to enjoy it while it’s here.

So grab a chair and gaze up at the sky. Because some movies deserve to be seen on the big screen.


Heidi R. said...

Beautiful photos of the clouds! We've had some clouds just like that right here in Michigan this week. Lucky for me, I have a very large window in my office. :)

Robert said...

Thanks Heidi, but shouldn't you be working? :-)

- Robert