Cloudy daze

Wade McIntyre
Wade McIntyre

I’m always amazed by things I should know, but somehow don’t know until I learn about them.

This process goes on always, and I am most grateful for it. But sometimes the accumulation of knowledge leaves me befuddled. I wonder if new knowledge is just trivia, or is it an important part of a lifelong education that humans undergo. Do we really need more knowledge after we learn to feed and clothe ourselves and make a living in the world?

Sometimes I think the wisest among us is the old man or woman living in a small area, a forest or town, who knows everything about that forest or town – and nothing about the bigger world which grows increasingly more unknowable each day, the more we learn about it.

Just today, I discovered that it was only with the advent of aviation in the early part of the 20th century that scientists were able to classify clouds into ten categories based on height in the sky and the general appearance of the cloud.

Perhaps I learned this in school and forgot my cloud facts, or maybe I was sick with the measles or mumps when cloud learning was taught.

Being a daydreamer who enjoys lying down and looking up at moving clouds from time to time, I am most familiar with the low-lying stratus, nimbostratus and cumulus formations. These are the ones that slowly change their shapes and turn into semblances of people and objects that we know, promoting what I call the science of daydreaming.

Flying in jets we’re often treated to cloud shows from the small puffy mid-level stratocumulus and cumulonimbus clouds as we fly over them. Beyond, in the 16,000 to 39,000 ft. range, clouds turn wispy and thin, not very interesting to look at, though I suppose it is of interest that they are made up of tiny ice crystals.

Perhaps, because our knowledge of clouds is so recent, relatively, even though we could always climb a mountain and reach out and touch the clouds passing by before flight came along, colorful sayings have crept into the language linking our behavior with clouds.

Who among us has not found himself under a cloud, out of favor temporarily with the powers that be? We all enjoy being on cloud nine when life is going our way. Some of us like having our heads in the clouds from time to time, daydreaming, or being above it all, depending on our mood.

With all we know about clouds today, I suspect they still keep mysteries from us. Clouds can’t possibly be alive, but if they were, I’m sure they would be laughing their heads off at our earthling militaries that routinely attribute inexplicable UFO sightings to unusual cloud formations.

I suspect clouds would say we humans are often guilty of “hiding behind a cloud” rather than facing up to obvious truths of our existence, including how overwhelming new knowledge can be for most of our kind.

They look down at us battling in a tug of war, based on our limited knowledge, over whether to choose creationism or spiritual enlightenment and scientific fact. They smile while we debate tooth and nail about whether human activities on the planet are bringing unprecedented climatic changes affecting every living species on earth.

Clouds clearly have no need to worry about concepts that frighten humans, like change and enlightenment.

That’s why I enjoy hanging out with them from time to time.