I wrote about the Cloud Appreciation Society almost a year ago, in connection with discovery of a new cloud, Asperatus. At the time, I said I would join. Alas, only now have I sent in the ₤4.61 to receive my membership certificate and a badge with fluffy white clouds against a blue sky.
Anyone who goes round with their head in the clouds (perhaps, like me, sometimes falling over your own feet) should visit this website. It’s like coming home to family after a long exile spent among strangers who don’t understand you. There are cloud photos, poetry, music, and a forum in which to explore and exchange aerial passions and photos.
I also borrowed The Cloudspotter’s Guide , by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. It’s a lovely book, combining science with mythology, poetry, anecdotes, pop culture references, and frankly surreal thought experiments, all suffused with a charming, slightly eccentric quality that I think of as essentially British.
Each chapter deals with a particular genus of cloud, beginning with the archetypal cumulus, staple feature of every child’s drawing, weaving in all the above elements to leave you with a satisfying sense of actually having learned something, and having enjoyed yourself immensely in the process.
For example, in the chapter on nimbostratus, Pretor-Pinney plays a riff on Frankie Lymon, of Why Do Fools Fall In Love fame, imagining himself backstage explaining exactly “why does the rain fall from up above.” Terrific stuff. I haven’t finished it yet, but I think I might buy my own copy once this is returned to the library.
Of course, I’ve been taking cloud photos with an eye to submitting some for the photo gallery. Harder than it looks. The photo at the top of the page was taken on May 28 in the Gulf of Corryvreckan, a whirlpool between the northern tip of Jura and Scarba, while on a paddle steamer cruise from Campbeltown to Oban.