Cloud Control


Tell me that isn’t a sky that deserves it’s own opera. (Photo by Bob Criswell)


A few weeks ago I was visiting Chicago and Wisconsin. It has only been about a year and a half since I moved away, but every time I go back it seems more and more alien to me. Everything is so green for one thing. In the summer it is never really quiet, day or night, because of insects desperately singing their mating serenades in search of love. And no matter what time of the year it is: it pays to check the weather report.

I was particularly struck by the clouds. There were a lot of them, even on sunny days. They bunched together in elaborate formations and sailed across the sky, dripping shadows on the ground below that dried up a moment later. Not only that, but these formations existed in strata: some high and fast moving, some low and lazy, some bulky thunderheads in between. But they were always moving. From the ground it was possible to imagine these cloud caravans rolling across the plains into Chicago and then onward to the east coast following some kind of backwards Oregon Trail.

The sun stabbed through these shifting clouds with difficulty, but did so with the dramatic effect of a heavenly spotlight homing in on sinners of interest down below. The sky not only had character, but had a character worthy of being immortalized in sagas performed in iambic pentameter around a roaring bonfire.

In Southern California, by contrast, the sky is blue.

Just blue.

It is as smooth and unbiased as a Tiffany’s box. Days are bright and clear and oppressively sunny. The sky dissolves into a greyish haze as it approaches the ground. In the mornings the sky may be overcast with a thick coating of moisture that rolled in from off the ocean during the night. By noon this is burned away to make way for another sunny day. The clouds, if there are any, are painted on the horizon like the backdrop on a soundstage.

In Los Angeles cloudy weather is something that happens to other people.

I can’t help but think that this says something about those of us who live here: for better or worse.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on September 4, 2013.

One Response to “Cloud Control”

  1. You sound like a lovely alien coming back to Earth. I’ve been reading stories about life in California that describe the horizons and skies like watercolor smears which DO differ from what you classify as Midwest skies full of clouds, like an oil painting dabbed with shades of white and gray. As for things being green…what color are they in California? Or, is California becoming void of plants/trees? What brought you through Chicago and “Wisconsin”?

    900+ followers and not many if any comments? I am guessing this is an Fbook blog thing.

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