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Watching Clouds Shape Shift

Updated on August 24, 2016
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Richard F. Fleck is author of two dozen books, his latest being Desert Rims to Mountains High and Thoreau & Muir Among the Native Americans.

Rainy Forest Fire Clouds
Rainy Forest Fire Clouds | Source
Distant glacial Clouds in Iceland
Distant glacial Clouds in Iceland | Source
Shape-shifting Clouds
Shape-shifting Clouds | Source

Shape Shifting Clouds Around the Globe

Forest fire clouds at sundown look like the sun has set into the very planet while fires on end burn with explosive bursts of pines and homes holding rich treasures of memories.

Elongated Cloud Puffs high up on Mount Fuji stretch their necks as they form where valley heat way down at Fujinomiya mixes with the frigid air of this volcanic summit. They appear like puffs from a Japanese dragon.

Twisting black snake of a tornado somewhere out in western Kansas startles me with its writhing motion like some giant snake twisting over the prairie towards me. I floor the gas pedal to get out of there!

Up-sloping gray storm clouds gather along the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains as we set up our tent. I begin to feel apprehensive; but little did I expect a raging June blizzard later that night over the Great Sand Dunes of southern Colorado.

Fast-moving clouds of a severe cold front move in quickly over Denver, Colorado from the north. They seem to slice and angle sharply towards us. It is August, yet stinging sleet piles so deep that the city calls out its snow-plows.

An isolated small black storm cloud hovers over western South Dakota. I remember well my Japanese friend and colleague roaring with laughter at this rattling storm cloud only a half-mile long surrounded by an intense blue sky. "Such a Thing could never happen in Japan," he said.

Horizontal strands of ground blizzard clouds rage across the hood of my car completely concealing the road below with blue sky above. Only in a place like Wyoming could this happen!

Glowing globe clouds light up the sky like Chinese lanterns just south of Mesa Verde. But these lanterns rattle with thunder while spits of rain fall on sage brush.

Replicating clouds duplicate the very shape of the landscape below. Willa Cather took note of terraced clouds above the terraced mesas of New Mexico. But something similar happens in Iceland where clouds pour over the glaciers seemingly adding a layer or two of ice.

Ridgeline clouds of the Black Hills hover over these South Dakota hills by hollowing their tops in the shapes of bison, antelope and dancing medicine men. A little later they become deer, mountain lions and running warriors.

Clouds form into biblical personages just beyond Bosler, Wyoming where cows were slaughtered by UFO's. One time I remember visiting this place when wind made music with the hollow aluminum pipes holding up my tent and a huge cloud developed into a bearded Moses.

Black volcanic clouds were photographed in South America for National Geographic. Deep within these clouds lightning thrashed with no sign of rain whatsoever. What a contrast between black volcanic ash and brilliant yellow lightning!

It is curious how very important clouds are to tribes of the Desert Southwest whose very lives depend on rain clouds furnishing their corn crops with necessary water.

© 2012 Richard Francis Fleck


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