On Clouds

Photo by Jim Child Photography

In my part of North Carolina, heavy, cloudy mornings have begun to usher in autumn. The first of the leaves have turned crisp, falling to the ground in the wake of the 7 a.m. breeze. Those first few hours of the day I often find myself staring out of the window that frames my desk, counting the unmoving undulations of gray between the top of the frame and the tree-top kiss of the horizon, the weight of the clouds somehow speaking to the gravitas that comes with change like that of the seasons. The air down south is heavy still with humidity, only more evident in the sun-less light.
Distracted some days by the clouds, I think of one of my first times on a plane as a kid. Flying home to Europe with my mother, I was weary from schlepping luggage and running to connecting gates. Outside the sky was ceramic slate. The plane lurched forward and tilted its nose uppward to what seemed at first an impenetrable gray mass. And then the wings cut through the heaviness, rising above to reveal the white, fluffy upperside of the clouds and a blinding sun. There, above the gray mass, was a world unto itself, I remember thinking with that kid-like wonder. There, above the gray mass, the passage of time was marked only by pure daylight and a pitch-black night. Below, time passes with more complications, sometimes with dark mornings, sometimes as in the summer with an almost never-ending twilight, in these moments the contrast between light and dark blurring.

These days, the clouds break without fail shortly after noon, when summer finds its second wind and again the temperature rises to the high 70s, even the low 80s. It’s a stark punctuation, a transition indicative of the bigger change ahead.

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