Head In The Clouds: Looking up can make your life look up

Head In The Clouds: Looking up can make your life look up


Making Ripples

Always got your head in the clouds? Well, that habit may not be as bad as you think. Cloud watching is a relaxing hobby that costs nothing to enjoy. In almost any safe weather, clouds look interesting, whether they are stormy or sunny, white or colorful. It’s educational, because we learn more about weather patterns and cloud types, but also artistic. People often see resemblances like cute bunnies and pirate ships in the sky, or they develop an interest in painting or photographing clouds.

For photographers who love clouds, there is a Cloud Appreciation Society in which cloud lovers post their pictures. According to its website, its current membership is 49,895 people, including 12,953 in the United States! Membership costs $33.04 per year and a $6.74 sign-up fee to cover the expense of a membership pin, certificate, cloud identification chart and their Cloud-a-Day service. “Members receive a cloud by email at 7:30 a.m. every morning. Sometimes it’s a photograph of an amazing formation by one of our members, sometimes, a super-short piece of cloud science.”

Speaking of science, the Cloud Appreciation Society’s CloudSpotter program is a citizen science project, similar to iNaturalist or programs that empower everyday people to observe the natural world (animals, plants, or even clouds) and submit data that scientists around the world can use. Cloud spotters photograph clouds and upload their pictures. “By using CloudSpotter, you will help scientists better understand and model climate change. The geo-tagged and verified cloud observations photographed by you and other CloudSpotters around the world will actively help research the crucial role that clouds play in global climate change.” They’ve partnered with NASA to accomplish this task. There is also an iPhone app that teaches 40 varieties of clouds with badges to earn as you become better at identifying cloud types.

But you don’t need a fancy membership, camera, or art supplies to learn about clouds and enjoy them. Start by learning the basics from a resource with good pictures or illustrations, whether you prefer a book or a computer. Then have some fun learning the rarer types of clouds, or those with neat names like “Mamma Clouds” which are pouches formed at the base of cumulonimbus clouds, or “Mares’ Tails,” which are wispy, feathery cirrus clouds formed by ice crystals and resembling horse tails.

If 2020 is turning out to be a troublesome year, take a moment to gaze heavenwards and you’ll be surprised at the beautiful variety there is above our heads. It’s a nice meditation practice to spend a moment breathing and watching the clouds change. If, on the other hand, 2020 is a great year for you, spend some time looking at the sky and remembering all the things you’re grateful for in life (like clouds, for instance).

Amanda Bancroft is a writer, artist, and naturalist living in an off-grid tiny house on Kessler Mountain. She and her husband Ryan blog about their adventures and offer tips to those wanting to make a difference at www.RipplesBlog.org.

Categories: Making Ripples