Have you ever wondered about clouds? Think back my loyal readers…didn’t you at some point in the past lay on your back and look for the shapes in those clouds? Didn’t Abraham Lincoln appear in his stovepipe hat, or maybe a clown with a couple of balloons? Forget the Pythagorean Theorem. A squared plus B squared equals C squared never appeared because it would require true thought on your part, and cloud gazing certainly isn’t about thinking. Cloud gazing is truly about not thinking…it’s about being a kid, or a kid again, my friends.
My first experience with clouds was in third grade on the top rungs of a set of monkey bars. You know the bars…the ones where you swing from bar to bar underneath from one end to the other. In third grade my friends and I would have jousting contests on those bars. It’s easy really; one of you takes off from one side, and one from the other. The idea is to hook your legs around the other kid and try to pull him down to the ground. The short kid with the stubby legs always had the advantage, and a fall to the hard packed soil underneath may well leave you breathless as you smack harshly off Mother Earth. Remember folks, this was the 1970s…an era before the overprotective parents of the world insisted on cut up tire fragments to cushion our falls. God bless the overprotective parents of the world, mind you.
But we were talking of clouds weren’t we?
One day, after a couple of good tumbles from the bars, I took to a spot on top, lay my head back, and let the sun play red off my closed eyelids. Suddenly, the sun vanished behind a large cloud, and upon opening my eyes I saw the pretty form of Stacy Carlisle. Stacy was a girl who sat three seats over in Mrs. Harrison’s Class; a cute little filly that I’d developed a comfortable crush on, and her flowing blonde hair was there in the big, fluffy clouds for me to see. (I suspect Stacy was really over in one of the girly circles discussing what a disgusting kid I was, and how I had looked all a fool as short legged Tommy Shewey pulled me down in joust three times.)
Then, quite suddenly I saw a large dinosaur eating Stacy Carlisle’s head and I felt all the better.
Did you know clouds are named from Latin roots? Cumulus clouds are named after the Latin word for ‘heaps’, stratus clouds are named for ‘layers’. Nimbus clouds come from Latin for ‘rain’, and cirrus clouds from the Latin for ‘curl of hair’.
Cumulus clouds make the best sky portraits, while cirrus clouds are merely the sky’s etch-a-sketch gone a little deranged.
Do you know where the phrase “raining like cats and dogs” came from? Interestingly, some historians believe that it originated from the middle ages, where many peasants had thatched roofed homes. In those days cats, dogs, rats, mice, raccoons, snakes, opossums, birds, Tommy Shewey’s ancestors, bugs, and other assorted beings lived on the roof. When it would rain to beat the band (I don’t know where that comes from), these animals would fall through the roof, and walla…a phrase is born. It’s also quite possible the term came about in the middle ages along the streets of London. In those days animals were dying at an alarming rate, and when it poured small dead animals would flow along the streets edge.
Take your pick folks.
Now, if you’re lying on your back studying the picture the sky paints, and a moderate to large stratus cloud, with a black bottom comes along, I suggest you discontinue the art of sky watching. In fact, I strongly suggest you go inside your stable home and find a retaining wall to kneel next to while you get a little closer to God through prayer.
But, when the storm has passed and you feel right with the Almighty, take your derriere back outside and lay in the mud while the sky clears. Believe me; some of Mother Nature’s best work is done under a growing rainbow as the nimbus clouds dissipate.
Do you know where the phrase “your name is mud” comes from?
Well…in merry old England the term was used in the 18th century to describe anyone who’s dishonored their name. In the good ole United States of America the term came into usage when Dr. Samuel Mudd set John Wilkes Booth’s leg the night he shot President Lincoln dead.
This is where you say “Well, I’ll be a Monkey’s Uncle…I didn’t know that.” I really can’t help myself at this point my fine readers…the term Monkey’s Uncle came from the Scopes Trial in 1925…that trial that tested creationism versus evolutionism.
Okay…now let’s all go outside into the freshly cut grass and lay prone with absolutely no purpose. Look up, my friend…look up and be a kid again…