Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cloud Lovers Unite!

As the temperatures have increased, the pace of our touring around Memphis has shown a corresponding decrease.

But with a slower pace comes the opportunity to observe scenes that would ordinarily go unnoticed. And right outside our RV's front door were these fair weather cumulus clouds.

I wish I knew the meteorological explanation for the appearance of these cloud formations in the late afternoons on the Tennessee side of the Mississippi River.

The regular appearance of these "puffy cotton balls floating in the sky" presented subjects for photographs as well as challenges to one's imagination when trying to identify what the formations might represent.
The formations shown here lasted less than half an hour, but instead of "developing into towering cumulonimbus clouds associated with powerful thunderstorms" (which would have been most welcome in this area of little rain), vanished in a relatively short time (

As was often the case, the tugboats (or towboats or pushboats) and their barges accompanied the late afternoon celestial show and their metallic stability provided a contrast to the everchanging nature of the clouds.

While reading about clouds, I found this poem by Patricia S. Brown, and it seemed a most appropriate description of the dramatic display of the clouds we observed.


The sky is hung with clouds
like some great stage
while we wander below,
too often unaware of the play.

© Patricia S. Brown

Another question that I wondered about had to do with the color of clouds. On that topic, addresses the answer to the question: Why are clouds white?
"Firstly, we would have to understand about the composition of a cloud. It consists of a mass of frozen crystals or very tiny droplets of water that float in the Earth's atmosphere. Clouds always float above the surface of Earth.

"When observed from Earth, the color of a cloud can suggest what it actually contains!

"This itself creates an impression of an overcast sky and weather forecasts then would obviously predict rain!

"The ice crystals that form the cloud reflect sunlight. Clouds appear white because they reflect this sunlight. Basically a cloud reflects similar quantity of light, therefore, it tends to look white. This is because the tiny particles of water in the cloud are so close to each other that sunlight cannot infiltrate deep into the cloud. This results in the reflection of light, which subsequently makes cloud appear white.

"However, when the drops of water turn larger, then light can penetrate inside the cloud. This light is not reflected back and it remains absorbed.... Therefore, the color of the cloud then appears of a different shades such as gray or even black when seen from the Earth!"

And on those evenings when the clouds lasted until sundown, we were treated to additional colors.

"Apart from these colors, clouds are also seen in shades of red or even orange especially on days when one can witness a gorgeous sunset.

"This again, is a result of the scattering of light, which creates beautiful effects! Thus we see how different types of clouds can be seen in different shades. Despite the scientific explanation, such sights sure appear as wonders of nature..." (

And in the course of researching clouds, I came across the following question posed to lovers of clouds:
"...Are you the only one who thinks life would be poorer without these glorious ‘patron goddesses of idle fellows’?

"No, you’re not. There are others like you. And together we’ll fight the sun fascists and their obsessions with ‘blue-sky thinking’. As a member of The Cloud Appreciation Society,..." (

What the Society stands for is summed up in their Manifesto:

WE BELIEVE that clouds are unjustly maligned
and that life would be immeasurably poorer without them.

We think that they are Nature’s poetry,
and the most egalitarian of her displays,
since everyone can have a fantastic view of them.

We pledge to fight ‘blue-sky thinking’
wherever we find it.
Life would be dull if we had to look
up at cloudless monotony day after day.

We seek to remind people that clouds
are expressions of the atmosphere’s moods,
and can be read like those of a person’s countenance.

Clouds are so commonplace that their beauty
is often overlooked.
They are for dreamers and their contemplation
benefits the soul.
Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see
in them will save on psychoanalysis bills.

And so we say to all who’ll listen:
Look up, marvel at the ephemeral beauty,
and live life with your head in the clouds!


The Society's webpage notes that their membership totals 30,436 as of this writing. Also available on their site are cloud poems (including the one by Patricia S. Brown above), music for cloud-viewing, and Cloud of the Month photos.

As the Society proclaims: "Cloud Lovers Unite!"

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