Posts Tagged ‘clouds’

The clouds on Wednesday were amazing here, and to share my photos of them, I first tried to find a cloud poem on Google.  But after reading several that weren’t quite right, I decided to change tack and see what I could learn about languages with numerous names for clouds.

That’s how I came across photographer and journalist Arati Kumar-Rao, who writes at Peepli about clouds in an Indian desert, where clouds are few and far between.

“There was excitement in the air. The horizon was flashing an intermittent neon in the darkness, silhouetting ghostly clouds.

“What are those clouds called? I asked. Chhattar Singh gazed into the distance, as if mining a lost memory. The words began to trickle — hesitant at first, then faster, crowding one another in his excitement. Those were kanThi, he said. And if they consolidate and promise rain, their name will change to ghaTaaTope. If the clouds become very dense, they’ll be called kaLaan.

“That night, the kanThi did not build up. It did not rain.

“Life stirred awake next morning under a pretty-patterned sky — tufts of white trailing in arcs and lines, horizon to blue horizon.

“We sat sipping chai and watching a distant wind ripple through a feathery, fruit-laden khejri. ‘Those clouds won’t rain either,’ I offered.

“ ‘Teetar pankhi’ Chhattar Singh replied. They had a word for this cloud pattern too – a perfect analogy that likened it to the pattern on the wings of a partridge.

“They say eskimos have 40 names for snow. I get that — they are surrounded by snow all year. The people of the Thar have just forty cloudy days in a year — and yet they have as many names for clouds! …

“The area I have been visiting over the past three years, the deep western part of the Thar desert, lies in Jaisalmer district. It is bounded on the north and west by Pakistan, in the east by Jodhpur district, in the south by Barmer district, and in the northeast by Bikaner district.

“The rainfall here is a meager 100-150mm, about a tenth of the national average and a pitiful 2 per cent of the rainfall Kerala and some other of the wettest areas in India get. For the people of the Thar, sighting clouds and rain are events. Memorable. Priceless. Because these moments hold the key to their very existence.” Read Kumar-Rao’s report here. I think you will like how respectful she is of Singh, controlling her instinct to ask a million questions.

My Massachusetts scenes don’t look much like the Thar desert, I know, but maybe clouds are similar everywhere.
















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On the corner of Congress and Farnsworth, there is a parking lot, and on the Fort Point Channel side of the parking lot, there is a Lego-size police station. In case you are ever lost around there and need to ask for directions. If LL Bean is more your thing, there’s one by the parking lot, too. I took two pictures.

The clouds at dawn have been especially good lately. I include two shots in case you are not up early. Roses need no elaboration, but I am quite proud of how the yellow mullein turned out the second time I tried to capture it. A granddaughter was with me at the time, in the stroller.

Moving right along, there is a shot of the fishing fleet in Rhode Island. The country road photo was supposed to show you a goldfinch, but even when I zoom in, it is too tiny to see. The still pond is called John E’s Tughole. A tughole is a place where peat is harvested, but I don’t think it happens much anymore. Maybe in Ireland. I know James used to harvest peat. And burn it, too.







































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I have a bunch of island pictures for you again, having had a few days to take my time with things. The slow pace makes a nice change, but I wouldn’t want it every day of the year.

At least it has helped me make a serious dent in the first volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s multivolume memoirish novel.

The pictures don’t need much explanation. Wonderful clouds. Tiny jellyfish like diamonds where the waves pencil their retreat on the sandy shore. An approved path down the bluffs to a rocky beach.

Rhode Island taught me what the English meant by “shingle,” the smooth round stones that Matthew Arnold describes: “Listen, you hear the grating roar of pebbles, which the waves draw back and fling at their return up the high strand.” I first heard that sound in a Misquamicut motel at night, decades ago now.


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Wish I could have captured the transformation of the sky over Boston about 4:30 this afternoon. It was like a sci-fi flic of a force from outer space taking over the world in one fell swoop. One minute the sky outside my window was all blue sunshine and puffy white clouds — the next, an ominous dark front was racing out of the northeast and eating everything in its path.

I would have liked a picture to contribute to Sharon Silverman’s art installation. She is building one in December and needs sky photos in a 4″x6″ print form (only sky, no buildings or trees or anything else in the picture): Sharon Silverman, P.O. Box 1212, Haverhill, MA 01831, silvermanarts@comcast.net.

Sharon says, “Remember to put your name and address on a separate piece of paper so that you can be added to the list of artists who are contributing their work to this project.” It sounded like a rare chance to be an “artist.”

I have quite a few sky pictures, but could round up only two for Sharon that didn’t have anything else in them. (Maybe only one, since a bird showed up in a print.)

Here are a few recent sky photos — two that are just sky.

And check my previous post on ForSpaciousSkies.com.







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In January I blogged here about ForSpaciousSkies.com and a guy who thinks we would all be a lot better off if we looked at the sky more.

I have to say, he has a point. When we lived on the 18th floor in Minneapolis in the ’90s, we were constantly admiring clouds from our balcony. And now, since reading about Jack Borden’s crusade, I’ve begun to pay attention to the sky again.

I find that looking at clouds for a few minutes in the middle of everything else that is going on can really feel good.

Two of these photos were taken near my house, and one is over the Seekonk River in Providence.


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seekonk river providence


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Do you remember the scene in War and Peace (I know, I read it a long time ago, too) in which Prince Andrei, lying wounded on the field of Austerlitz, looks up at the sky and experiences a kind of awakening?

Well, there’s an organization that hopes we will all connect with the sky with that sort of attention and feel renewed.

“It began with a cryptic e-mail from an unfamiliar source,” writes Jan Brogan at the Boston Globe.

“ ‘Look at the sky as often as you can — for about 21 days. I’ll contact you again in 3 wks.’ It included a link to a website with clouds.

“Signing off with ‘More Light,’ this guy could have been a total whack job. But something about the writing said this had nothing to do with UFO sightings. I clicked in.

“The website was ForSpaciousSkies.com. The man who sent the e-mail, Jack Borden, a former Boston television reporter, had had an epiphany as he looked up from a meadow one day in the mid-1970s and saw the sky as if for the first time. He has been on a mission to educate people about sky awareness ever since.

“ ‘When we are unconscious in regard to our surroundings, we are irresponsible to them,’ says Borden, speaking of that mission now.

“It began with a series of televised man-on-the-street interviews. Borden stopped pedestrians, covered their eyes, and asked what the sky looked like. Most had no clue. They were rushing through their lives without ever looking up.” More.

I want to take up the challenge, pay more attention to the sky. I’m good about this when I go out early in the dark for my walk and take a deep breath of the moon and stars, but I should be more attentive more often during the day. I think my hiking and skiing and sailing friends must get sky vitamins  all the time. They probably don’t even think about it.

I include a couple pictures from times I did pay attention during the day.


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I was pumping gas, and a guy with California plates who was filling the tank for his wife commented that our town seems incredibly pretty and quiet. I said it’s quiet because everyone leaves in summer. That surprised him. He thought it would be busy in summer because it’s so beautiful.

Made me think. Why are we always looking for someplace else to be?


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