I take photographs almost every day, and in winter when the colours in the landscape are subtle and subdued, the most exciting thing is often the sky. Even from indoors I can see plenty of sky from the windows and recently the weather has provided an amazing show of special effects, particularly in the mornings and evenings. This is one of the things that I like about winter, that the days are so short it’s quite usual to see both sunrise and sunset, and sometimes the skies are breathtakingly beautiful.

A few days ago I watched the sun rise over the moor and then from the other side of the house watched it set again in the afternoon behind the bare branches of trees. As the sun went down the sky turned from very pale gold to a colours so subtle they haven’t got names, though there was a certain amount of amber, and many different greys; there was a cloud of Paynes Grey that gently elongated itself and drifted sideways. All together I watched for about three minutes and in that time I could see that the changes in colour and light were happening so fast that every second was measurably different. It made me think that this is how things are, in nature and for us too, we just don’t think of it that way – we’re always thinking that the moment we’re looking at something, that’s the way that it is, and it’s not- in fact everything changes continually, and so do we.

This morning it rained steadily for hours under a sky that was a solid unbroken grey, but by lunchtime the rain cleared, and all afternoon we had patches of blue sky with a parade of clouds of all shapes and sizes and colours, some of them great piled up creamy white constructions with just the softest shadowing of pale grey; some big dramatic blue-grey monsters hurrying sideways, some long thin streaks of grey moving equally fast, and some hazy, nebulous stuff drifting and disappearing….

I went for a walk and on my way back found myself looking up through the branches of the beech trees at a cloud right overhead that was completely monochrome, a dark, totally neutral grey that had absolutely no colour of any kind, but at its edges the sky was a brilliant blue occupied at the horizon by a range of pink and white clouds that were so solid they looked like mountains.

The contrast between the colour in the distance and the gloom of colourless grey overhead was so extraordinary I thought something dramatic must be about to happen, and sure enough the wind picked up and hailstones started to bounce on the pavement around me, though not for long; within a minute the sky above me was clear and the sun was shining straight in my eyes as I tried to take pictures of another cloud that appeared behind the trees, grey with brilliantly glowing white edges. The wind kept catching me in gusts so strong that made it hard to hold the camera still and I couldn’t be sure I was shooting straight.

I don’t think I could ever get tired of watching clouds. I really need to be outside if only for a short while every day, whatever the weather, whenever I possibly can – not just to get air in my lungs and get my legs moving, but to get my mind and my heart still and to wake up my soul. Today I was tired when I went out, but despite the cold it was so exhilarating I could have stayed and watched until the light was completely gone.

Advertisements