Archaic and Passe? Dang.

   Well, Cloud of the Week fans, I've suffered a major set back. Shortly after visiting the University of Washington library to see the 1939 edition of the Atlas International des Nuages (International Cloud Atlas, I wrote to my favorite cloudman to tell him I was planning a trip to see the 1896 edition of this atlas at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. He was, he wrote back, envious. And he admired my persistence in tracking down these early editions.
   He himself had written a piece on cloud classification years ago but, he admitted, he didn't consult this atlas--the "bible" of cloud classification published by the World Meteorological Organization. "Frankly, he wrote, "the ID-ing for clouds has become a bit passe." Ouch! "I think it's seen as archaic now." Double ouch.
   Just as I was feeling comfortable pointing to the sky and saying "Look! A cumulus congestus capillatus!" Just as I was ready to post another Cloud of the Week (after a weeks off) here. Just after I had laminated a two-page cloud key for my personal enrichment in the great outs of door.
   Tossing aside cloud identification, he suggested beginning students of meteorology focus on learning just a few things: 1) Being able to tell ice clouds from droplet clouds, 2) recognizing the signs of an advancing storm, and, 3)  because we are in Puget Sound, recognizing the Convergence Zone. This can be accomplished without books, laminated keys, or blogs--just "by eyeballing and nothing more."
Ice clouds.
This is a way more practical approach to the clouds. It is, however, an approach from a Real Scientist interested in weather and not an Accidental Naturalist with quirky passion for archaic Latin nomenclature, the poetry of clouds, and old atlases published in French.
"Nuages isoles, delicats, a texture fibreuse,
sans ombres propres, generalment de
couleur blanche, souvent d'un eclat soyeux."
  Fortunately, there is room for both on my blog and in my book. So, I will post more Clouds of the Week and will begin to tackle the three essentials listed above. I would hate you to feel outmoded by what you learn here.

How Much Time to Give a Cloud

   What a glorious day in the sky. I started the morning with a walk (camera and dog in tow) to enjoy the clouds that were not rain clouds (nimbostratus or cumulonimbus) but the lighter more effervescent varieties of stratus, stratocumulus, and later--as the afternoon air warmed--a progression of steadily building cumulus clouds--fractus, humilis, mediocris, and congestus.
 My problem was I didn't know how best to enjoy them today. Should I get out in the rowboat? Should I climb onto my roof? Should I bike to the park near the water tower? Throw and air mattress onto the lawn and just stare and stare? Would I enjoy the clouds more if  were still or rowing, biking,  or walking?
    And for how long? All day would be nice and a suitable time to dedicate to such beauty. What about an hour? Or what about ten minutes every hour all day long?  Today, a lifetime would not have been enough. Look at them! Look at the free show they put on! We all should have left our homes, schools, and offices today and gone outside to watch them, to give them a round of applause, and a standing ovation. Our hands should be raw and stinging from all the clapping the clouds deserved this day. And they were not yet pink or orange. Just white and gray. But what lovely, scrumptious whites and grays.
   I grateful, in awe, and apparently living inside a Mary Oliver poem.
  I am not sure what I thought was going to happen with a full day of cloud worship. Could I love the clouds more than I already do? Will I be uplifted or transformed somehow if I say they beautiful and marvelous over and over like a mantra? Will I get into heaven?
    I knew by noon today that whatever I did today was not going to be enough. The clouds would not get the attention or praise they deserved from me. Of course, the clouds couldn't care less about me or my crush on them. So, resigned, I gave them as much time as I could on a busy day (of doing things not as important as praising clouds.)
   Here is the problem: I cannot give back to the clouds what they give to me. I cannot reciprocate. This is not a two-way street. So, I will gather in their glory, breathe in their beauty, and give it to you.