I’ve Looked at Clouds…

     Not exactly the same way in which Joni Mitchell describes, but having traveled quite a bit this year, I’ve looked at clouds literally from “both sides”…

Over and under…

     I can remember, as a child, finding bunnies, or dogs, or even monsters in the cloud shapes…

Ok…I’ll admit it…

I still do!


Clouds at sunset perform a daily rendition of the changing leaves in Autumn.

     A bright, dramatic splash, or shout, of color before the bleakness of night, or Winter.     Not that night and Winter don’t have their own unique beauties and dramas, but they are sometimes slightly more monochromatic….

or should that be less chromatic…?

     The problem with clouds, or more precisely, the problem with using clouds in photographs, is that they are so transient and somewhat unpredictable that often the logistical aspects of having a picturesque subject in front of the clouds is beyond the scope of planning.

      The opening photo might have been nice with a family picnicking in the foreground…or, say… a bluegrass band…?

(or something equally, or hopefully, less banal, perhaps)

but by the time you round up the family and stand-up bass and find a suitable location…


Ok, how about a picnic under the stars…?

Or, I suppose one could create the scenario and wait….

For days and days, or weeks… until the ‘right’ clouds appeared.

     The following two pictures are of the same cloud bank in the opening shot but 10 minutes and 15 minutes later,

as the sun dropped until just the very uppermost tip was ‘set on fire’.


     I stayed in this spot for another 20 or 30 minutes because I had noticed that as the cloud match-tip was scraping across the darkening emery board of sky, deep within the billows, the sparks from Thor’s anvil were beginning to portend the echoing rumble that soon pushed the sizzling ozone rich air in all directions….

There is a certain excitement brought on by a distant danger.

     Having said, and shown, all of that, this post actually germinated with a scene from a morning in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago.

A scene that was not recorded in my camera, only in my memory.

     There was, as previously mentioned, nothing in my immediate vicinity that was, to me, adequate to juxtapose with the cloud formations to create an interesting photograph.

I decided that this picture would literally have to be actualized by words.

     The morning was vivid and brisk, as only daybreak in the desert of Autumn can be.

     We forget, here in Tennessee, that in locales lacking an abundance of grass and trees…and humidity……that a scorchingly hot day can quickly transform into a sweater hugged night and morning.

The air was penetrating and clean…

…as intense and biting as the metallic tonic of a mountain brook…

     And the sky was the shade of blue that causes a somewhat pleasurable pain inside one’s chest… Not unlike taking a long draught of that brook after a strenuous mountain hike.

     Mottled across the cerulean, for as far as the eye could see in any direction, was a most random collection of check-marks, unlike any cloud arrangement that I can remember ever seeing.

Each check was the thickness and texture of a contrail.

     My first impression was that some commercial pilot had gotten bored with his holding pattern and had intermittently toggled his engines on and off after making terse forty-five degree turns.

     Then it struck me that possibly God had grabbed the softest of sable brushes and was ‘doodling’ across the sky.

     This thought pattern seemed especially appropriate given my geographical location.

So God’s got His brush and a clear sky canvas..

And He gets an accusatory call…

“I’ve lost everything…!!!   I heard your voice say”,

“Put everything tonight on 17 Black against the house.”

And God makes a quick brush stroke while saying,

“Uh…that wasn’t my voice….swipe…I’ve got more important things to do than play games of chance…swipe…Actually, what I said was.

“Put everything on Flight 17 BACK to the house!…swipe… 

 But you didn’t want to hear that, did you?…”Swipe

     And it must have been a bad night at the roulette wheels, because, as I’ve said…The sky was FULL of checkmarks.

     If it was actually the aforementioned pilot who made those marks, I would hate to have been at the gate when he landed….

     And now for something completely different…

Something a little more whimsical…?!

You tell me….!


~ by rkpowers on November 3, 2011.

6 Responses to “I’ve Looked at Clouds…”

  1. Your persistence seemed to be paid off. Last picture is really something. And, I love your way of describing your surroundings.


  2. your stick to it-ness is inspiring…thanks


  3. An excellent post and beautiful photos! (BTW, it was Judy Collins who sang “Both Sides Now” in her clear, crystalline way.) Have a great day!


    • Pam, you are correct, Judy Collins recorded “Both Sides Now”, as did Sandy Denny….although, Joni Mitchell sang it AND composed it, so therefore my reference to her. Thanks for reading AND commenting!


  4. Thanks, Randy. I do appreciate the clarification as I wasn’t familiar with the other recordings and had no idea Joni M. had written it — just always loved the Judy C. version and assumed it was hers. Sorry for any implication that your reference was in error. Please forgive. 🙂


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