Out here on the Plains the big blue sky can take on the air of a deity. Lately the cloud god has been angry betimes. Last night we walked again on the wet streets after a brief rain. It was one of those when it might be raining in the front yard but sunny in the back. The sun threw a stark bright line dividing a wet tree into shadow and unreal, oversaturated color, the clouds bunched and rolled and came and went. We spent a lot of time looking up, until the dog pulled toward a jaded lawn rabbit.
Today the god’s black face rolled in just after lunch, killed the shadows, and rained big drops on us for a little while. E-mails flew back and forth to assure that loved ones were aware of the tornado warnings. As is the habit of the office worker, a number of us obeyed the irresistible urge to step out on the patio and watch the heavens roil. Then, just as quickly, the darkness was gone, and the big blue bowl of cotton balls returned, and the sunlight glistened on the long wet grass.
Our god is a schizophrenic god.
The Plainsman with a bent for the written word will often take up his pen and try to decipher the sky in descriptive phrases. We get such a variety up there that we don’t get below.
Walking in the urban landscape sparks its own interest, providing an ever-changing perspective on a three-dimensional, accidental design. You feel yourself walking through it, as through a canyon or a forest.
But out here the art is on canvas, bowed but still flat to the earth-bound eye, a wash of blue or gray or white either brilliant light or dull shadow, or both at once. The dimensions are shaped by the clouds, if there are any. They might tower up a thousand feet like great mounds of soft serve ice cream, or streak across the sky flat and high like a staccato of white charcoal on steel gray, or mar an otherwise clean slate with mere smudges of a darker gray. They might wander lonely or in little bunches seemingly just out of arm’s reach, buzzing the city like fluffy barnstormers. Or they might form a huge herd, shoulder to shoulder, stampeding across the sky toward the horizon and some new grazing ground, brawny, edged with black and blown on strong high winds.
Such does Nature muse on these lonely Plains.