Early in life I settled on a hobby I can do on a summer’s day, in a hammock, on my back….. No, it’s not napping. I watch clouds. Call it reclining research.
What does that have to do with plants? Quite a lot, actually. And in fact, if one has an interest in clouds and plants one always has something to do everywhere in the world. Looking down or looking up, I’ve always got something of interest to bemuse me. I am not a lazy man. I inherited from one grandfather the tendency to always be busy, all the time, even when relaxing. Clouds and plants allow me to be busy and not busy at the same time, and that’s relaxing.
Did you know by studying clouds you can be as accurate as the weather forecasters on a 24-hour basis? They’re better at telling you what’s going to happen in five days but on a day-by-day basis cloud watching is just as accurate as the weather bureau (no doubt you have suspected that all along.) Will it be cooler or hotter tomorrow? Look at the clouds. Will you get a thunder storm today? The clouds will tell you, as will jet condensation trails. They’re clouds, too. The way the clouds swirl tell you different wind patterns aloft, their direction, altitude and temperature. And for those sayings? They are mostly true, red sun in the morning is a warning. Red sun at night is a delight.
Here in Florida many a dramatic front moves through seasonally, a dynamic clash of hot and cool air. And have you ever watched a thunder storm grow? They have cells each caused by an updraft. The cells form usually rectangular columns. The columns fight to become the column that rises the highest then flattens out on top….King of the Thunderstorm! In the early spring we get them from the west, then in early summer from the east. In the middle of summer they blossom over the middle of the state and can go anywhere. Interestingly the pop up along a diagonal ridge across the state from Daytona Beach to Tampa, the same path the interstate takes (and sinkholes. In fact, roads always follow the high ground between bodies of water if only to avoid the cost of building a bridge.)
By watching clouds I can answer such questions as: Do I need to take in my seedlings? Will there be hail? Do my tomatoes need to be picked to avoid damage? The clouds tell me. If you’re a camper, hiker, boater, forager, survivalist, watching the weather is a skill you need to develop. If you want to see some great cloud pictures visit the Cloud Appreciation Society. So much for looking up, now let’s look down…
We always find ourselves waiting in modern society, waiting for a friend to arrive, waiting for a meeting, traffic to move, something to open. I use that time to look at plants. I identify edibles, I study the landscaping for ideas, and I ponder unfamiliar plants that look like they might have some use.
Yesterday I went to Outdoor World in Orlando. It’s a large sporting good store. Unintentionally I got there a few minutes before they opened. While the crowd of mostly obese men waited for the doors to open I walked around the building and identified 16 edibles species. The more-then-pleasingly-plump guys waiting for the doors to open should have taken that walk with me. I doubt any of those “outdoorsmen” ever get out of their truck or boat to identify an edible plant.
As for the clouds, mine today say there is a front coming. That means rain then cooler weather by tomorrow. Guess I had better go size up some wood for the fire place.