All activities at Casuarina Library (17 Bradshaw Terrace, Casuarina NT) unless otherwise stated.

Birds – and other things! Print E-mail
Friday, 03 June 2016 00:00

Part  forty five – Continuation: Flying High, Looking Down

Well, here I am again with my confessions and random jottings about the effect clouds can have on an aficionado (sounds much better than ‘addict’, wouldn’t you agree? It implies a certain je ne sais quoi that is not present in related words such as fanatic, junkie, zealot and all the rest!)

Anyhow, have you ever looked up to see the pretty little puffs of cloud set in orderly rows, looking like a miniature army marching across the sky? Sometimes they can dissolve into smaller particles resembling the ripple effect left on the sand when the tide recedes. The ir absolute uniformity creates such a calming impression on one’s mood as they are totally non - aggressive when viewed from below – or even from above when seen from a jet plane’s small porthole window. Similarly, when the same window frames a host of gauzy , white, cotton wool balls drifting as if by magic along the slip - stream before fading into the never - never, a feeling of peace also prevails.

Decidedly unlike the equally spectacular surging, rolling, darkening storm clouds that indicate an instant down pour of rain, hail, sleet or snow. Observing these menacing fifty shades of grey, I often wonder whether it would be possible to capture the fleeting moments of these sky theatrics on to a canvas and make the painted scene look as dramatic and interesting as in reality.

Once, when looking out of the plane’s window, way above the murky clouds lurking ahead and below us, I noticed that ice crystals were forming on the wing edge before being snatched away by force, into the distant wherever. Then, as the dark clouds reached slowly upwards enveloping the plane as we bounced through the developing storm, the view became blurred as wispy strands of ice and water on the outer glass soon obscured the whole ‘airscape’.

At the time, I wondered whether the crystals a nd raindrops would huddle together to form hailstones and, as they fell earthward, would they meet warmer air down below us, melt and revert back into an acceptable rain shower or would they gather and form into larger hailstones pelting down from ugly black clouds? Or maybe they would turn into snowflakes, falling gently to earth through a chilled, misty whiteout?

I recall an incident many years ago of being up on the side of a mountain (ie a very high hill!) cocooned in the inevitable cloud vapours, and the actuality of being inside a cloud was a very cold, wet experience – regardless of how pretty the cloud may have looked from ground level! The thick air seems to cling to your body, prickling and stinging your eyes, while you may also be Keeping an open mind buffeted by gusty winds. And, of course, if you are high enough up to be in cloud you are usually high enough in altitude to suffer the discomfort of breathing difficulties. The cloud also prevents you from seeing the beautiful view down below – which was why you climbed up there in the first place! All in all a very disappointing adventure.

So why would anyone want to be a mountaineer? I would much prefer to see my clouds from ground or sea level, looking upwards. (Oh drat! That crick in my neck won’t let me write any more!).

Gayle Carroll