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A Cloud Collector’s Paradise

I’ve enjoyed watching clouds all my life. They are like expressions on the face of the sky. The sky’s expressions are sometimes playful, sometimes scary and sometimes moody. My fascination for clouds multiplied when I discovered the book, The Cloud Collector’s Handbook.

As a child, I spent lots of time finding animals or people shapes in clouds. Okay, I still do that, but as I read the book, I hoped to develop a new cloud vocabulary. With the help of The Cloud Collector’s Handbook, instead of finding elephants and clowns cavorting around the sky, by the end of the summer I would be more scientific and be able to identify clouds and their sub-species.

There were so many different types of clouds described in the book, that I was overwhelmed. Eventually, I gave up reading it page by page and used it as a reference book. The author of the book and founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, suggests keeping a photographic record of cloud collections. For added fun, The Cloud Appreciation Society has point values for each type of cloud, the lowest being a common old Stratocumulus cloud, at 10 points, and a whopping 55 points for “the rare and dramatic breaking waves of the Kelvin-Helmholtz cloud—the jewel of any cloud collection.”

I spent the summer looking up and taking pictures of clouds. By the end of the season, my ability to identify and name clouds hadn’t improved much. I still can’t tell the difference between a “cumulus fractus” and an “altocumulus undulates.”

Even though I didn’t know what to call the clouds, I was dazzled by their beauty. Soon, my need to label the clouds or collect points, evaporated. I came to feel that the sky was like a wonderful friend smiling down on my day, and night, and all I needed to do to connect with this friend was to go outside and look up. Like the clouds I’d been watching, my intention shifted and changed. Instead of a Cloud Collector, I became a Cloud Appreciator. 

Lucky for me, the Thousand Islands Cloud Gallery is open 24/7 and is free. Out on the water is a wonderful place to observe—marvel really—the artistry on the vast canvas of the sky above. All the time I spent gazing up, made me realize that our Thousand Islands sky is a dramatic compliment to the beauty of the water and islands below.

I guess I already knew that. Cloud Collector or not, we all can marvel at how Mother Nature combines her beauty, and sometimes her fury, in our little wonderland we call the Thousand Islands.

By Lynn E. McElfresh, Grenell Island

Lynn McElfresh is a regular contributor to “TI Life,” writing stories dealing with her favorite Grenell Island and island life. This marks number 93. You can see all of Lynn’s articles here. (We celebrated her #80 in July, 2015!)

Editor’s note:  Lynn helps us move pianos, fix the plumbing and often finds books, places and people to review… This month Lynn has chosen a topic that is both unusual and fascinating just like her suggestion back in June, 2011, that we play Ship!  Lynn pointed out that there are no captions in this article… See if you can decide what formation they represent!


Posted in: Nature
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Cathy Winter Brown
Comment by: Cathy Winter Brown
Left at: 7:46 AM Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Another great article, Lynn! Beautiful pictures also! Thousand Islands is a magical place!
Jane Hores
Comment by: Jane Hores
Left at: 4:48 PM Friday, November 18, 2016
Lynn, once again, throughly enjoyed your musings!