I live in a valley on the leading edge of a mountain range. Clouds are ubiquitous in my world. We learned the basic types in school and I never gave them much thought again. Clouds are so common as to pass my notice.
This summer my apathy began to change. The first alteration occurred when I began to learn to paint watercolors. I discovered that there is not really white paint. White is the absence of color in watercolor. I stopped and looked up one day and pondered. How would you paint a cloud if you cannot paint white? I admit my prior ignorance here. I did not realize until that moment that clouds are not simply white or grey. Each one is an array of delicate and complex coloration. Even the typical clouds are far more than white.
I must have been looking up in awe. It attracted the attention of all those who were standing beside me. They couldn’t understand what was surprising about the sky. I had to explain about the white being an absence of color. Soon we were all projecting ideas about the clouds. That was the second revelation to me about clouds. Everyone has ideas about clouds. They are universally intriguing.
I used to view clouds as a negative. Clouds were a hinderance to sunlight. Clouds were the reason that my area experiences only a couple dozen sunny days a year. It takes my breath away when I hear about locales that have three-hundred sunny days a year!
Along with the clouds I regarded traffic as a nuisance. The clouds and traffic came together for me one day. It was a “mostly sunny” day for my area. The only clouds were cumulus and decidedly pretty. Not that I was looking up. I was driving around town on errands, running late. Red lights were not desirable, when every traffic light turned red, tension mounted in the car. In a spark of Divine inspiration, I turned my eyes off the red light during the wait for green. I looked up through the windshield so I would not need to stare at the annoying red. All that I could see was blue sky and a pretty cloud. I was momentarily arrested by the beauty of the cloud. My eyes darted back to the light several times in the course of that red light. I saw beauty and remembered God’s grace and providence. The fact that California is enduring a much publicized drought caused me to recognize how the unfailing clouds provide plenty of rain to my location. It was the first time I consciously remember thanking God for clouds.
I began a new tradition that busy afternoon. Whenever I hit a red light I take time to admire the clouds while I wait for the light to change. Since the clouds are plentiful I simply look up through the windshield of my car on the lights and inevitably see at least one cloud. These momentary pauses are a welcome relief from the pressure of daily life. I am amazed by how many colors are present in even a cursory glance at a cloud. I am discovering that clouds are full of color. They are not basically white! No one has honked a car horn at me for dawdling over the clouds. It doesn’t take any time to notice beauty. What it requires is an intentionality. Clouds are no longer a negative fact. They are becoming welcome friends. They are friends with an infinite gallimaufry of colorful clothing.