As I stuck my head out the back door the other morning, I looked up and it dawned on me. Like my thoughts, the sky during the day is always changing. Light and colours and clouds shift. They connect me to our planet’s atmosphere.
My mind gets up and away. “Will it be a fine day or not? Will we get rain?” I grew up with the oft quoted “Red in the morning shepherds’ warning. Red at night, shepherds’ delight.”
Here come some Scottish rain clouds. In the Tropics, you can smell rain before it falls.
Not everyone heeds a warning!
What I see often stops me in my tracks. What made the clouds this shape? Was it wind, the temperature, or a frothy sea? I slow down and wonder.
What is that! Why is that cloud different? Is it a fishbone? A surf break in the sky?
There’s a different sky show every day and I day-dream as I see patterns in the clouds. Writer Bryce Courtney believed day-dreaming is essential … that a soaring imagination is the glue that keeps our soul from shattering under the impact of a prosaic world.
A TED talk by the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society also explains how important this kind of aimless activity is … to just be present and slow down. Check out more images of clouds there!
Wherever you are, just look up and see what you can see.
Cautionary tales about ‘the sky falling’ are often told to children in several cultures. There’s also a giant called Swallower of Clouds from the First Nations – Zuni people. This one’s for us.
Might the Sky Fall today?
One cloudy day, an elephant almost trod upon a humming-bird las it lay in the middle of the track, feet in the air.
“Watch where you’re going!” called the tiny bird. “I’m down here!”
“Doing what?” asked the elephant, looking around.
“Haven’t you heard? Animals round here are worried that today the sky might fall in!
The elephant flapped its ears and muttered, “You can’t do much with those skinny legs!”
“True,” replied the bird. “I decided to do what I can.”
The elephant stepped back … and soon, it was lying beside the hummingbird, feet in the air, ready to hold up the sky and noticed the clouds
Adapted from a fable from China “Holding Up the Sky” in MacDonald, Margaret Read, Three Minute Tales: Stories around the world to tell or read when time is short. Little Rock, August House, 2004: 145.
It had rained steadily all morning – so we went for a walk. It was still raining when we got to Millbuies Country Park.
To be among old trees again, of all shapes and sizes! Taking in the odour of leaf mould, the vistas of bark columns and all the colours heralding the change of season! Sweet Chestnut (introduced from the Balkans in the 16th. C) contrasts with the still green Sycamore (another non-native).
Beeches hummed.They dappled the darker woods, shining golden or copper.
Huddled under umbrellas, we missed the dripping canopy.
The good earth yielded underfoot, oozed at the bends and was carpeted with leaf litter. We listened to the patter of rain on leaf, land and us.
Rain-dappled twigs hung from shivery boughs. Ducks kept their distance.
Clear dark water harboured brown trout, all the way to the dam wall in this man-made fishing loch.
Leaves in a back-water eddied like golden scales from a magic fish.
A robin piped and flickered through the bare branches. I’d missed the red squirrel.
Golden, fairie birches flickered under the rain as we trudged down and up and around the water.
Gothic larches studded the hillside,while bracken, like feathers from a phoenix, fringed the track.
With lungs full of fresh, soft air, our body warm and feet dry, we headed home refreshed.
I look forward to walks like this.
Forests in the future?
Last Autumn in Scotland, I saw many more Oak trees have been planted in public places. You notice them easily for they hang on to their golden-yellowed leaves the longest. Many were cut down for ship-building in the 17th and 18th century. Ubiquitous mono-cultural fir plantations were established by the Forestry Commission in Scotland after WWI. The British war effort had almost run out of timber! I remember these dense monocultural woods, where nothing grows below and no birds sing among, which are now being cleared and replanted. This time, with trees native to the original Caledonian forest that once covered much of Scotland. For more info see Trees for Life founder Alan Watson- Featherstone’s talk on Youtube
This week’s Photo Challenge reminded me of a Russian proverb “Everyman loves the tree that gives him shelter.” Last Fall, we had a leisurely walk around Green Lake. People were in the lake, on the lake but mainly, around the lake.
Green shade is a blessed relief in our hot Australian summers. A local family of Boobook Owls have moved to smaller trees which give denser shade, so they can sleep better.
I started this post with the last line of Garner’s version of the Arthurian legend about the marriage of Sir Gawaine and the Lady Ragnal, a tale I tell myself. I am intrigued by this author’s point of view. I have always loved Garner’s voice; this turn of phrase … and of her he was as glad as grass is of rain… made me wonder about rain, how weather effects us all, and why I don’t mention it much in my storytelling …
This legend is set on St Stephen’s-tide, the day after Christmas. I imagined the December weather In Northumberland. Hard frost, hills blanketed in snow, biting wind, icicles on walls,horses snorting and steaming in the cold … all this seems such a dream in the Tropics. Here, on Boxing Day, the grass in my yard was parched. It was 40C and baking hot and we were desperate for rain.
…and of her he was as glad as grass is of rain…
I kept a weather eye open as I worked steadily moving on from room to room inside the house, sweat dripping from me, The crack of a lightning bolt came as a surprise. I looked out,
The weather had turned, the heavens finally opened with a tropical storm full of thunder, flashes of light, cracking close by and the glorious, warm, drenching rain.
What a relief when it rains!
Later, as I wandered in the garden, I wondered … was she as sweet on him as honeysuckle after rain?
How glad is grass, really, after rain?
Did she luxuriate in the sun and go wild?
What’s left behind after rain? What pondering, playful drops?
Here’s to rain! Happy New Year! Health, Joy and enough Rain to keep you going and growing!