As a child, it did not occur to me that I ought to be in awe of the clouds above my head. It was only later, as I began to look out the windows of airplanes, when I was fortunate enough to get a seat near one, that I was looking out at a landscape. A constantly moving and drifting landscape that I could imagine dropping down into and bouncing around in the clinging, cottony mists.
When I moved to northern California, it did not occur to me that I might end up missing the billowy thunderheads of my youth. Sure, it rains here, but the sheets of gray that stretch overhead tend to cover like a blanket. When it rains, it rains for days at a time and we are left once again with the cirrus that pervade our skies until that blanket of precipitation returns.
These days, I find myself missing those banks of cumulus that tumbled over the Rocky Mountains on their trip across the continent. I can remember how they used to park just behind the foothills and create towering reminders of just how big nature really can be. Taller than the mountains. Full of rain and electricity, waiting to drop their contents on a population who could see them coming, but never fully comprehending their power. At least I didn’t.
A few mornings back, after the skies had cleared and I was able to trust the forecast that did not include indoor recess, I rode my bike through the early morning, looking east. Ahead of me I could see the storm that had rolled through the night before. It appeared that someone had swept it aside and left it in great gray piles to be cleaned up later. Or perhaps the Big Daddy in charge of things used his omnipotent hand to clear a spot through which he could look down and check on his Oakland. Her Oakland. I made an audible "wow" as I looked off to the horizon and watched as hints of purple and orange began to appears through all that cloud debris. Because I have looked at clouds from both sides now and I can say that now I fully appreciate their architecture and purpose.
I was looking at puffs of evaporated water on their way to meeting up with other puffs of evaporated water until they became heavy enough to condense and drop to the ground and turn someone else's recess into a wet mess.