Wednesday, November 23, 2011


In September I wrote about the virtues of doing nothing. I am still enamored with doing nothing (or striving to do nothing), but sometimes something has to be done: like admiring clouds. Cloud-watching is the perfect non-activity and provides ample layers of engagement. You can wrestle with determining when a cloud crosses classification from an altocumulus to a cirrocumulus. You can catalogue the animals you see in the clouds. Or you can simply admire. Try it. Take a moment to look up. The world will soften. You will lighten.

Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of The Cloud Appreciation Society and devout cloud enthusiast, claims clouds can help us regain our youthful exuberance and wonder. He points out that children, full of wonder and exuberance, are constantly cloud-watching as the world is built for adults thus children are always looking up. As we grow our sightline evens out and often in adulthood our eyes tend to focus on the ground. So, take a look at these books and then look up.

The Cloudspotter’s Guide: the Science, History and Culture of Clouds (Gavin Pretor-Pinney)

The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies

Peterson First Guide to Clouds and Weather

In Pursuit of Clouds: Images and Metaphors

The Book of Clouds

If your interest in clouds grows beyond admiration, the nitty gritty can be found in numerous articles accessible through our databases. Academic Search Complete provides great articles for the cloud scholar. Apparently the water vapor in an average-sized cumulus cloud weighs the amount of eighty elephants. Thunder makes sense to me now.

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