On One Hand

October 29, 2005

Clouds

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 2:19 pm
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If I ever leave Colorado, I’m going to miss the way the clouds here look.

Clouds may seem identical everywhere, but look closely and they’re not. In Hawai’i even the small clouds are thick and heavy, trailed by whisps of mist. They loom silently over you. In Seattle they’re gray and indefinite, linked together like hazy smoke by a general blur of moisture-laden air. In Southern California wedge-shaped clouds are smooth and sparse, unmoving and far-off while the sky behind them is high and dusty blue.

In Colorado clouds are light and cheerful, the purest white I’ve seen in nature against the deep blue high-altitude sky. They appear suddenly and drift quickly past, growing new tendrils and flinging them off like stretched cotton being pulled apart. Thunderstorms are deep and noble, churning from streaked base to ruffled cauliflower-top with crisp, unblurred boundaries. The air around them is perfectly clear to the end of the horizon. White blankets sometimes pour like waterfalls over the high mountains, then spontaneously lift halfway down to leave the foothills open and dry. They’re layered and distinct at their respective altitudes; I’ve seen more types of clouds here than anywhere else – but none look like smog or mist.

I accepted these qualities as a given nature of clouds until I began to see other places.

I’ve longed to live in ecclectic oases like Seattle or Portland, each where an endless sea of green ripples around an island of shining skyscrapers. I love green and trees, especially the huge conical Douglas Fir and Sitka Spruce of the Northwest that grow uninhibited under repeated waves of dependable moisture. But the trees here have a different depth and character, as reslilient fortresses that battle constantly with snow, wind, and drought. The Front Range is like a meeting of the arctic and the desert – where snowcapped peaks abruptly give way to the dry plains. Everything about Colorado is borderless abrupt, and I’m in love with the contrast.

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6 Comments »

  1. You just explained one of the many reasons I want to live in Colorado so bad. I would never stop looking at the sky and it would be amazing.

    Comment by usp121sgn — October 30, 2005 @ 12:15 am | Reply

  2. Oh, I love the Colorado weather. I miss home so much when I’m here on the East Coast . . .

    Comment by acerbic_wit — October 30, 2005 @ 6:15 pm | Reply

  3. Everything about Colorado is borderless abrupt, and I’m in love with the contrast.

    that really makes me want to visit.

    Comment by bradfordneal — October 30, 2005 @ 8:59 pm | Reply

  4. I like how far I can see in Colorado- all the rolling hills and being able to see the front range from nearly everywhere. And storms- you can see far off storms that never ever come close. Lightning in the distance.
    But- not enough trees, for me. Michigan has trees that almost always define the horizon.
    The Chicago area had drought conditions most of the summer, but back home in Michigan, having Lake Michigan to the west always guarantees rain and thunderstorms.

    Comment by firemaplesong — October 31, 2005 @ 3:59 am | Reply

  5. Re: Clouds

    Matt,

    I’m sure you probably know a fair amount of what’s on this page, but I think you might find this link interesting:

    http://www.geocities.com/mapguygk07/Colorado/colloquialisms.htm

    Actually, the guy has a whole bunch of Colorado stuff on that site that I find quite fascinating (not being a native, obviously). Check that out if you get a minute.

    You’re definitely right about the almost instantaneous contrasts between the different parts of Colorado. On the very same day, I have seen both 25 degrees and 4″ of snow in the San Luis Valley, and 55 degrees and sunny not even 100 miles away at Pueblo. Nowhere else, even in my native Michigan where it is said “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change,” have I ever seen weather, topography, etc. change as quickly as they do in Colorado.

    Comment by larrysphatpage — November 2, 2005 @ 12:13 am | Reply

    • Re: Clouds

      I was aware of everything there, but never really realized it was notable. For example, I didn’t know it was unusual to name a metropolitan area after a geographical feature as in “front range,” and consider that people in other places might be confused with all these overlapping (but very distinct) definitions of “the mountians” or “the Western Slope.”

      I also didn’t realize anyone would find it notable that Coloradans consider the plains boring. The fact that they do makes senes to me – I mean, come on, its the fucking plains.

      Comment by ononehand — November 2, 2005 @ 4:50 am | Reply


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