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Fun Summer Activity–Cloud Spotting

By Kim Robson:

During the height of summer, all I want to do is stay cool. Part of that involves doing as little physical activity as possible. But Cloud gazingsome of our “type A” friends might view that as sloth. If you need or want a suitable excuse for lazing about all day, I submit: cloudspotting.

Cloud gazing is the preferred pastime of daydreamers, wonderers and poetic souls the world over. From the waves of clouds that roll ahead of a storm to the ethereal wisps that decorate a blue sky, the atmosphere is full of breathtaking displays. All you have to do is look up.

To further legitimize your new enterprise, pick up this handy guidebook: The Cloud Collector’s Handbook by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society and cofounder and creative director of The Idler magazine. Inside you’ll find fascinating info and pictures of all sorts of different cloud types and interesting phenomena. It includes a worksheet for keeping track of clouds you’ve “collected.” Earn points for every new cloud you spot. You’ll be searching the skies for the rarest cloud formations to rack up your point total!

The book features gorgeous full color photographs that showcase a new type of cloud on every spread, from fluffy cumulus to the rare horseshoe vortex to the wispy noctilucent clouds that hang at the fringes of space.

cloudOr have fun with this neat cloudspotting app the Cloud Appreciation Society developed. You can draw pictures and shapes on random clouds to help showcase your inspiration, then post your creations to the site if you like.

In this TED Talk, Pretor-Pinney discusses how clouds get a bad rap even in our language. For instance, we talk about “clouds gathering on the horizon” or someone “with their head in the clouds” as a bad thing. But “blue-sky thinking” and “clear skies ahead” are good things. And doesn’t every dark cloud have a “silver lining”?

Keep your camera on you and document the more interesting shapes you find. Pretend you’re a little kid, relax and exercise your imagination, and you might once again see hearts, fish, UFOs, towering mushrooms, waves, rainbows, and optical effects.

The Cloud Appreciation Society’s Manifesto:

“WE BELIEVE that clouds are unjustly maligned and that life would be immeasurably poorer without them. We think that they are Nature’s poetry, and the most egalitarian of her displays, since everyone can have a fantastic view of them. We pledge to fight ‘blue-sky thinking’ wherever we find it. Life would be dull if we had to look up at cloudless monotony day after day. We seek to remind people that clouds are expressions of the atmosphere’s moods, and can be read like those of a person’s countenance. Clouds are so commonplace that their beauty is often overlooked. They are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul. Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see in them will save on psychoanalysis bills. And so we say to all who’ll listen: Look up, marvel at the ephemeral beauty, and live life with your head in the clouds!”

So you see, you can tell your friends and family that, despite outward appearances, you are NOT loafing about like a slug, but are, in fact, engaging in very important survey-taking of your area’s microclimate weather phenomena!

About Kim Robson

Kim Robson lives and works with her husband in the Cuyamaca Mountains an hour east of San Diego. She enjoys reading, writing, hiking, cooking, and animals. She has written a blog since 2006 at kimkiminy.wordpress.com. Her interests include the environment, dark skies, astronomy and physics, geology and rock collecting, living simply and cleanly, wilderness and wildlife conservation, and eating locally.

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