A Head in the Clouds

A Head in the Clouds

Cloud-watching a display that changes throughout the day rarely fails to hold our interest. Its wonder sometimes takes our breath away. What does today have in store?


From the flat two dimensional world of everyday, I look up at these silent travellers across the skies. Always changing, ever moving as if to a destination, they melt into vaporous nothingness even as I watch. October is a good time for cloud-watching as autumnal weather fronts move across the landscape. In between several days of rain I have been enjoying some beautiful cloudscapes recently.

View across fields with fair weather cumulus clouds

The sky influences everything. We act as barometers. The different casts of the weather effect our mood. A fine cloudless day guarantees smiles and contentment, but so too will a day of happy fair-weather cumulus, sign of a good day. Above, it’s a day of soft cotton-wool clouds, like white candy-floss, puffed up feather pillows or, whatever else your mind imagines. Here are some of G.M.Hopkin’s ‘silk-sack clouds’ with all the time in the world to dreamily ‘meal-drift and melt’ across the sky.
This will be a good day for walking out in the countryside.    

Wispy cirrus clouds


Clouds of all sorts decorate our skies. There will be unsettling wispy ‘mare’s-tails’ of high-level feathery cirrus clouds, an indication of a front approaching. Leisurely high clouds scarcely moving. Veils, sheets, bands or ripples, like slow moving glaciers or icebergs. Low clouds in a rush, scudding across with a sense of purpose, or stationary low- level fogs and mists that embrace the landscape adding a sense of mystery. Clouds at different levels playing off each other like instruments in an orchestra, playing nature’s music and making its poetry.        

Storm cloud

A day can bring a rollercoaster of weather-influenced moods as when a storm approaches. The sky darkens, the wind rises as the colours of the landscape disappear, as if a dimmer switch has been turned down. We see the sheets of rain coming closer, then the soaking rain as the storm unloads its burden. Eventually the light and the colours return as the cause of the storm is revealed in splendour. This huge threatening cauliflower-shaped anvil cumulonimbus has brought us lightning, thunder and a heavy down-pour. Its awesome unleashing of power is now retreating into the distance.   

Colourful storm clouds

Christine Matthews / Storm clouds with silver lining, London N14 / CC BY-SA 2.0

On another day we may be inspired by the eye-catching drama of early morning or evening clouds backlit, or coloured by the rising and setting sun. Above, few Londoners will have failed to notice this one. The skies are rarely uninteresting.

Pink evening cumulus cloud


I stop what I’m doing, look up in wonder and let the clouds into my day. The sight of them does me good. It stills that over-busy mind as I catch the clouds’ mood, and rejoice in the Divine artist who paints them as ever-fresh reminders of his greatness and power.  A foretaste of that sight of Christ coming again in glory in the clouds.

Fair weather cumulus clouds

Since planning this post I’ve been doing a lot more cloud-watching, finding it a tonic, to lift the spirit, give wings for the mind and flight to the imagination. I’m now cloud-dreaming again and thoroughly recommend it!
Yes, we do need to ‘keep our feet on the ground‘ as the saying goes, but our ordinary mundane lives also need moments of glory and vision like this. With our head in the clouds we can dream as well. Our troubled world needs more dreamers.

Pink early morning clouds

To see some great photos of clouds world-wide visit The Cloud Appreciation Society website.

4 thoughts on “A Head in the Clouds

  1. such a compelling post, Richard, both pictures and words. and especially this: “Yes, we do need to ‘keep our feet on the ground‘ as the saying goes, but our ordinary mundane lives also need moments of glory and vision like this. With our head in the clouds we can dream as well. Our troubled world needs more dreamers.”


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