Friday, 1 February 2008

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now…


The recent partly cloudy weather here in Todos Santos, and the return of the sun, made me reflect on one of the major differences between here and Comox: clouds, and their interaction with the land.

Although the Huerta heart of Todos Santos is green, due to the multiple springs that feed it, the town itself sits just about on the Tropic of Cancer. The town itself, and all around, for hundreds of miles, is owned by the desert. Other than a brief, unreliable rainy season in the summer, the land is parched.

In the “Season”, the westerly trade winds bring almost constant dry air over the town, and the sky is usually a spotless crystalline blue. When clouds do appear, they tend to stay aloof, sitting high up in the clear air, giving me vertigo when I look up at them so far above and yet so clearly detailed you feel you could touch them. They act as if repelled by the thirsty, demanding land beneath them, afraid to get too close in case they are dissolved, imagining being diminished by closeness, as indeed is the case. If the dry ground and its thirsty air don’t get them, the relentless sun usually does. When the vapours are stronger, you can sometimes see the cloud bubbling underneath, like watching a simmering pot of porridge upside down, as if it is thinking about breaking down and visiting the earth, but reconsidering.

Watching the spectacle, I think of clouds in Todos Santos as being a cautious lover, careful to keep its needy partner earth at a distance, for fear of being consumed by the union.

Comox, on the other hand, seems to sit right on the target path of the infamous “Pineapple Express” that brings a continuous stream of wet air north. The countryside is lush and green, dense woodlands interspersed with succulent pastures. Comox does have its periods of sun, but clouds are ever eager to return and reclaim their territory. When the clouds move in, they don’t stay aloof, but instead hug the contours of the land, sometimes making it difficult to tell whether the cloud has come down to kiss the earth, or is being born from that earth. They overwhelm, pressing their attentions and wetness on a land already saturated with moisture.

Comox clouds, to me, seem like suffocating suitors, increasing their efforts to woo even as the disinterested earth rejects their advances.

Two places, two dysfunctional relationships between the elements. I wonder where the sky and earth live together in a healthy way? But maybe that wouldn’t be so interesting …

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