Winter makes me look at the sky. In other seasons there is the distraction of growth and even decay, but in winter buildings look uglier, the people darker and the trees barer: so I look up at the sky instead.
I grew up in Britain and the wind from the Atlantic was never far away. Clouds raced, skies stormed and then cleared and blue sky was measured in the cloth needed to make a pair of sailor’s trousers. The sky was ever changeable, unpredictable, infuriating.
Here in this corner of central Europe the weather has a more middle aged, less tempestuous nature. When it is cold it is cold for a long time, when it is hot the sun blazes from clear blue skies until you ache for a forgiving cloud. Such stability has a lot to recommend it, hats stay on heads, hair out eyes and the trees are rarely ripped out by their roots; but such uniform skies can be dull. So when winter brings rain and wind, I imagine that the tang of the sea has not been completely lost on the air and I look up to admire the rare roaring majesty of a cloud wracked sky.
The names for clouds are wonderful, cumulonimbus, altostratus, cirrus, anvil and best of all mammatus.
Boiling, lolling, floating, twisting in layers of faces, creatures, monsters and messages from the gods, the clouds are the perfect counterpoint to the small life on the ground ( and phone) as they lift up our eyes to the absorbing, liberating indifference of the sky.