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3: Clouds

Dear Friend,


I hope that the past seven days have brought you here to this new week healthy and eager to take on the next thing, whatever that might be. It’s still January so that means we still have a sense of newness and beginnings; the first full moon of the year, the Wolf Moon, happens this coming Thursday.


Do you feel any different on a Full Moon? It is a given that the moon directly affects the ocean tides. But what about other things in nature, like you and me? Scientists have studied the effects of the light of the full moon and agree that it can have an effect on sleep patterns in some human beings. Scientists also agree that more studies will need to be done in order to determine whether or not (and how) the Full Moon might affect human beings in other ways including emotionally and psychologically.


As you know, moon light is actually the reflection of sunlight onto the surface of the moon. The moon is mostly gray in color and shadows on the moon’s surface create shapes (that some of us see) as light hits moon craters, hilltops and broad flat plains. Depending on our point of view, the full moon appears to have a face… is that a smile?


Our eyes combine the wavelengths of Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red (the color spectrum in order of shortest to longest wavelengths) and we see white, the absence of color, the presence of sunlight. Black is the absence of light.


A wall painted white is a different thing but can still take on qualities of illumination because of the reflective properties in some white-paint-pigments. It’s pretty neat how science and white paint are teaming up to help save natural resources.


When is the last time you painted something? Was it a canvas? A wall? Was it painting for design? Just for fun? An illustration? Or, maybe your masterpiece was a self-portrait? As you may or may not know (or care), I do enjoy painting. (It’s a fact that I have been applying color to walls by use of various mediums for over 5 ½ decades, my earliest works included bellybuttons on everything… including the sun, the moon, the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and clouds).


Sunlight creates warmth on the ground. The air just above the ground begins to rise (we all know that heat rises). And as this warm air rises, it combines with cooler air, higher in the atmosphere, and moisture in the air condenses (like your hot breath on a cold window pane). As air pressure and temperatures drop, a cloud can form. Clouds do not have bellybuttons.


Are clouds just poofs of vapor with no real substance? Clouds are a combination of water, dust-particles and ice crystals; substantial elements, though you would (more than likely) fall to earth if you stepped out of an airplane onto the beautiful billowing clouds below. You might see clouds building and shape shifting anywhere and at any time because of fluctuating temperatures in the sky and on the earth. The presence of moisture in the air determines whether or not a cloud will develop into a raincloud (a ‘nimbus’).


The tiny bits of dust in the air will act as a filter for light and cause a change in color so clouds and the moon can appear to be red or pink, purple, orange, even blue.

And these same dust particles and ice crystals in clouds give moisture something to cling to, as raindrops form. It stands to reason that a colorful moon indicates the presence of dust particles and the potential for rain: *“Pale moon rains; red moon blows. White moon neither rains or snows.”


Stratus clouds are what make our sky overcast and when they reach from sky to ground, they are called fog, or the eerie mist that veils the light on the night of the Wolf Moon! Stratus clouds don’t always produce rain, but because they are in the lower atmosphere, they can linger and bring dampness to the fur of your otherwise dry and toasty Labrador Retriever.

Cirrus clouds are made up of ice crystals and appear as thin wisps high in the sky. They can indicate wind. *“Trace in the sky the painter’s brush, the winds around you soon will rush.” Have you ever heard of ‘Mares’ Tails?’ You will see them form high up in the sky as wind pulls cirrus clouds into long curled ‘tails’ which evaporate and disappear with warmer temperatures.

Cumulus clouds can build up high like masses of puffy white towers, if they contain rain and develop thunderstorms, they are called cumulonimbus clouds.


Masses of small puffy clouds patch-patterned in rows are sometimes called ‘Mackerel Scales.’ *'Mackerel scales and mare’s tails make lofty ships carry low sails.' These two cloud formations will often appear together a couple of days before a storm.


Long before the age of the digital-data-storage ‘Cloud’, raw nature has provided a heads up to navigators of tall ships out at sea as well as alfalfa farmers hundreds of miles inland; if we pay attention, there is still time to learn the ‘old ways.’


*Our thanks to the National Park Service for this fun PDF of old-time weather-related sayings.


Over the past year, Frank has captured many hours of time-lapse video. Here is a three-minute Celebration of Clouds.

Thank you very much for being here to read Tracks by the Post. As we journey on in search of home, we’ll continue to capture the beauty and real-life that we find out in nature. We are grateful to be able to share our journey with YOU!


As always, when you have a moment, DROP US A LINE  we'd love to know how you are doing!

And, at your leisure, please visit


Have a beautiful week!


Gently Be,

Leslie and Frank


A heads-up: In the coming weeks, we’ll be making some updates to our websites – all of these changes should be behind the scenes but we appreciate your patience if you encounter oddities while visiting our websites.


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