‘Clouds’, an Essay by Kristina Machanic Goslin

Member 38,409, Kristina Machanic Goslin tells us how cloudspotting for her is an ever-present way to connect with nature

For so many people, nature has become a luxury. A privilege. Something reserved for those who can afford to jet off to their villas in the tropics, heli-ski in the Canadian Rockies, or sail away on their yachts. Getting into nature for most now requires getting AWAY from something else. Our jobs, suburban developments, and our insanely over-scheduled lives. This disconnect and restriction feeds directly into the sense of having no control over one’s dreams and desires. That we MUST push away our need for nature and beauty and freedom, because our lives demand focus elsewhere. Nature, however, has provided us with a constant gift, if we’d only learn where to look for it.

I’d always noticed clouds, often because I would tilt my gaze upward when I was stuck in traffic or seeking escape from whatever mundane constructed environment I was in. I love to see beauty in what’s around me, and clouds know no boundaries. I can look up and see something spectacular whether I’m on top of a mountain, in a city, or the supermarket parking lot. I can be rich or poor, able bodied or wheelchair bound, and clouds are there so long as I remember to look up. As the CAS Manifesto states, clouds are nature’s egalitarian poetry.

When I first began actively cloud spotting, my family and friends were amused by my obsession and somewhat bewildered at times by the excitement that would overtake me when spotting a rare formation. Now, as they too take note of the sky’s display, they tell me that I have literally changed their lives. How they look up and see what otherwise was an unnoticed backdrop to their daily tasks, but now is alive and dramatic and beautiful and ever-evolving. Much like we are… or should strive to be.

Clouds form due to disturbances in the atmosphere, colliding weather patterns, moisture and wind and electricity mingling and mixing to form a plethora of varying shapes and configurations. Some are predictable and stable. Others shift before you can settle your gaze to fully see them. They are immense and heavy, undulating and churning leaden grays and greenish blacks… or delicate gossamer ribbons woven through azure silk. Yet they all can appear above the same horizon. The canvas remains constant. Above the clouds the sky is steadfast. Blue, deep, endless. The clouds express the earth’s mood and they can do so with as much volatility as a teenager. There is only one constant when it comes to clouds… they will always change.

I find myself smiling a lot more now that I always have an eye on the sky. Spotting a rare and fleeting horseshoe vortex will make me gasp with excitement. A grin appears that didn’t need anyone else to put it there. Not even a happy memory. It’s simply my spirit reacting to something that makes me feel… good. Looking for these Easter Eggs in the sky has made every humdrum drive to do errands an opportunity to be reminded that something beautiful, powerful, and natural could appear at any moment.

2 thoughts on “‘Clouds’, an Essay by Kristina Machanic Goslin”

  1. Linda Coleman avatar Linda Coleman says:

    Thank you, Kristina: you managed to express a lot of how I also feel about nature and the wonders all around us, if only we take the time to look. Seeing something beautiful in the sky is so easy – just look up! Even on a dark day, they are there, parading for us to enjoy in their splendidness.

  2. Ruth Quist avatar RUTH QUIST says:

    Kristina, I enjoyed your essay. I can relate to many things that you expressed, like people bewildered by what you are doing. I have now started to call this activity” twirling in the parking lot”. That just makes sure we are catching all clouds in all directions. Thanks again for your words. I lived in Burlington in the early 70’s. Wonderful state of Vermont.

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