“Look up, marvel at the ephemeral beauty, and always remember to live life with your head in the clouds!”
~ Cloud Appreciation Society
Cloudspotting need not be just a childhood sport. As adults, we can allow ourselves to enjoy whimsical scenes over our heads and relish the expansive feeling of staring up at the sky. And while we’re at it, we can learn a few cloud names so that we can honor them in their brief but delightful life.
Gavin Pretor-Pinney is an avowed cloud lover who created the Cloud Appreciation Society in order to promote and share the object of his passion. You might explore the Society’s Manifesto and peruse the awe-inspiring photo gallery, or even consider joining the organization to add some photos of your own.
Invitation for Practice
Go cloudspotting today! You might listen to Pretor-Pinney’s delightful TED talk for inspiration. When you come across a cloud with an interesting, beautiful, or whimsical shape, you might: take a picture (and send it to the Cloud Appreciation Society or to your friends), draw it, paint it, point it out to someone, or get yourself into a comfortable position (on the ground, if possible) and stare at it to your heart’s content until it disappears. If you find yourself without a view of clouds, you could imagine them, perhaps inspired by photos. What feelings/thoughts arise from your consideration of clouds?
“Instructions for living a life,” — said Mary Oliver in an oft quoted poem — “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” What better place to start than with the sky’s shimmering abstractions?
We invite you to share your reflections in the space below the author bio.
Enjoy the full seven-day Nourishing Our Nature practice.
Fabiana Fondevila is a writer and teacher from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her latest book, “Where Wonder Lives: Practices for Cultivating the Sacred in Your Daily Life” was published in February 2021. Fabiana teaches online workshops and seminars on living a life of awe and radical aliveness. You can learn more about her offerings at FabianaFondevila.com. She is also a founding member of Vivir Agradecidos, our organizational partner in Argentina.
Image by Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash
Please log in or Create a Profile to post a comment.
I’m a day behind on the practices. But they’re unfolding as they should. I was looking up and I couldn’t see a cloud. Then, I thought maybe I’d go look at some pictures. But as I kept looking up it hit me that it’s overcast so the whole thing is a cloud. I went to the front of the house where I can see the mountain and it’s bathed in a beautiful fog blanket. I always feel so Serene when I see this blanket. That’s so fleeting. In an hour it will be gone. Thank you for shifting my gaze. Allowing me to appreciate all that is around me.
This morning, I did not have time to log in to read this reflection. I had to take a road trip for an appointment and as I returned in the evening, cloudscapes filled the air. I began seeing elves and flowers and animal shapes floating above the horizon. It was an awe-filled experience and I had to concentrate to not go too far with my imagination while driving. It was a joy to return home (safely) and to have a name for what I was doing–cloudspotting!
So happy to hear that you are “natural” cloudspotter”, Elaine! We need more people like you :).
Cloud watching is a Relaxing experience that takes us beyond logic. We humans need to find ways to embrace the infinite and clouds offer an invitation to embrace peace.
My grandfather used to sit & watch clouds for hours before he died. I can still see him on his porch enjoying the wonder of nature.
What a beautiful memory of your grandfather! It sounds like a lovely way to honor him in practice.
Clouds on the prairies were spectacular as a storm was arriving. They were a mystery to me as a child. What if I could touch one!
Love this invitation to cloud spot!
Cloud watching is a personal favourite so it was a delight to discover Pretor-Pinney’s TED talk, thank you!
Here’s a poem I wrote recently on the lighter side of cloud watching.
Walking in the Neighborhood
early morning walks are best
keeps us energized rest of day
plopping on big floppy caps
we venture out
for our walkabout
don’t do walks on Monday …we like Mondays to be sedate
or hot temperatures
or heavy rain or fog
best to select the date that our aching muscles motivate
usually can predict
what we’ll encounter
when turning the corner at Nantucket way
today pink and yellow clouds
shaped like animal crackers
flowers and birds abound
maybe tomorrow we’ll see giraffe
or chimpanzee clouds
and I’ll write a poem to you about it
it’s pink elephants mama and baby
and of course
what usually follows…bees
Love the animal cracker clouds!
This is monsoon and cloud season in Tucson. I delighted in “looking up” to watch clouds changing shapes as I looped walking my hood 4x. I was also was listening to sci fi novel Dawn by Octavia Butler. What an incredible experience to think of other worlds as I was blessed be able to walk on our earth!
How lovely that you can find delight in the world we are in, even as you imagine other possibilities!
Hello from Toronto Canada. More than two decades ago, I had a skylight put in so that I could look up at the moon from my bed, but the angle of the skylight did not allow for that viewing. It did and does invite cloud glazing. I am so grateful to wake up to the passage of clouds every morning , cozy on my bed.
That is so fortunate of you! And so smart to repurpose your skylight for other earthly delights.
Hello everyone! The Cloud Appreciation Society has also published a couple of books that are fun. “The Cloudspotter’s Guide” and “The Cloud Collector’s Handbook”.
I love clouds and think they are such a moment to moment reminder of the wonder, change, and uncertainty that this life holds. This morning the sky is a cloud.
I used to have a framed picture entitled “Woman With A Cloud Hat” with an accompanying picture “Woman with Her Head in the Clouds”. I now wish I still had them. There is so much sky here on the lake shore of Michigan; clouds tell us what’s going on..
I walk with my head in the clouds a lot! I often spot “angels” & hearts up there! Love just watching the clouds go by.
Not sure if I will be able to see clouds today, as here in No. California, we have got very very smoke filled skies. Can’t tell if it is fog or smoke. Skies are overcast & heavy with this “stuff”. 😞
Along with taking photos of trees and landscapes on our walks and hikes, my husband and I also love to take photos of clouds! My husband likes all clouds – even the dark oppressive ones (which frighten me). I need to begin looking at the dark clouds with a different perspective – so that I might appreciate all of them – and see the beauty even in the darkness..
We live close to the coast, so the breezes are either holding off or feeding the inland clouds. A few weeks ago was a ‘building’ day and as I sat and watched, I took a photograph every 5 minutes. When seen all together, it was like watching the birth, life and death of a cloud–it was very moving.
What a beautiful idea – to take a photo every 5 minutes! Thank You for sharing.
But where can we share photos on this blog except to change our profile pic each day? Any ideas, my compadres?
Clouds are surely our most abundant source of unnoticed beauty, because all we have to do is look up. Nothing in nature is more mysterious than clouds and, to my eyes, nothing is more beautiful and full of wonder. Their once-in-a-lifetime poetic beauty will never be repeated no matter how often we look skywards again, and their endowment of rain is a bounteous gift without which most Earthly life would eventually perish. Why do clouds not sink to Earth? A cumulus cloud can carry 500 tonnes of water – the weight of 40 double-decker buses – yet it appears to us as a castle sailing majestically across the sky.
What a wonderful question! I admit to never having considered it. Subject for a poem for sure. Spoiler alert…..they only appear to be solid.