The nimbus stop

CloudsOverEscalanteCanyons_fb
Clouds over Utah’s Escalante Canyons.

For many people along Colorado’s Front Range, the past week’s worth of clouds held too much in the way of rain and too little in the way of silver linings. Famous for skies that are not cloudy all day, the region has seen only fragments of sky beyond the clouds of late.

Reese watches the clouds build over Roosevelt National Forest.
Reese watches the clouds build over Roosevelt National Forest.

The damage from the resulting deluge, though isolated, has been severe. Some have lost their lives, others have lost their homes, members of the local TV media have lost their voices and their minds (to compare the scattered flooding from these rains to the Biblical flood or Hurricane Katrina is ignorant and irresponsible).

But sometimes, to spin Shakespeare, hath the cloudiest day some sun. Although suffering through six consecutive days of showers does have the effect of making one feel like a resident of the nameless city in David Fincher’s Seven, the rain itself was much needed, particularly after years of drought and wildfires.

Clouds loom over Dixie National Forest.
Clouds loom over Dixie National Forest.

Despite being branded as natural disasters by much of The Fourth Estate (particularly the breathless television wing), the fires and floods alike provide important—even vital—ecological benefits. And no matter how hard we petulant humans protest, Mother Nature will scour us and give us a good washing when she deems necessary.

The Zuni people, whose tribal name provides street designations throughout the areas recently impacted by heavy rains and flooding, embraced the clouds and what they held. Songs sung during the grinding of corn often welcomed the appearance of clouds and the Rain-Makers:

High up in the sky,

See Rain-Makers seated,

A Zuni rain ceremony. The elaborate masks represent the cloud masks worn by the Rain-Makers, water spirits whose faces are too holy to be seen by humans.
A Zuni rain ceremony. The elaborate masks represent the cloud masks worn by the Rain-Makers, water spirits whose faces are too holy to be seen by humans.

Hither come the rain-clouds now…

Behold, yonder

All will soon be abloom

Where the flowers spring—

Tall shall grow the youthful corn-plants.

* * * * *

Lovely! See the cloud, the cloud appear!

Lovely! See the rain, the rain draw near!

Who spoke?

It was the little corn ear

High on the tip of the stalk.

Clouds lend the appearance of smoke over Chimney Rock in San Juan National Forest.
Clouds lend the appearance of smoke over Chimney Rock in San Juan National Forest.

Saying while it looked at me

Talking aloft there—

Ah, perchance the floods

Hither moving—

Ah, may the floods come this way!

* * * * *

Yonder, yonder see the fair rainbow,

See the rainbow brightly decked and painted!

Now the swallow bringeth glad news to your corn,

Singing, ‘Hitherward, hitherward, hitherward, rain,

Hither come!’

Singing, ‘Hitherward, hitherward, hitherward, white cloud,

Hither come!’

Now hear the corn-plants murmur,

‘We are growing everywhere!’

Hi, yai! The world, how fair!

Sun peeks through the clouds and shines on Wyatt.
Sun peeks through the clouds and shines on Wyatt.

If nothing else, this surly, swirling storm system offered spectacular cloud watching, which is infinitely superior to crowd watching. Clouds can be great triggers for the imagination; the more they roil and boil, the better. Clouds invite us to see in them what we will—gods, camels, dragons—and they are artists with the limited palette of shadows and light.

After a nearly seven-day downpour, it is understandable to wish the rain away. But the sun and blue sky are never so welcome or so beautiful as when they emerge from the parting clouds.

Clouds hover above Colorado's Gold Dust Trail.
Clouds hover above Colorado’s Gold Dust Trail.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: