Fluffy clouds and tea leaves

With the balmy spring weather upon us, I am drawn once again to our hammock. The shifting breeze toys with the wind chimes, coaxing out errant melodies much akin to a pianist noodling on the keys of an irresistible piano; unidentifiable, but pleasing nonetheless. And so, relaxed and mesmerized by the free-form concert, I turn my face to the clouds to see what the universe wants to tell me.

I will admit that over the last year and a half I’ve spent a lot of time studying the clouds that float over my backyard. I have no idea what type of clouds they are, because their meteorological makeup is of no real concern. My interest is in their movements, their layout, the images they present. Yesterday an elephant calf scurried along the sky on his knees, nose extended out in front of him along the ground, in a curious game of who-knows-what. He scampered around up there for quite a while (a still day will do that), before drifting away. There is a veritable ark of animals and people up there on any given day, waiting to be discovered, to merge their stories with mine.

Let me back up a little. Recently, my mother told me that when she was young she read tea leaves. When I asked her if she really could read tea leaves or if she just read tea leaves, she honestly admitted, “a little of both.” I don’t doubt it for a moment. Anyone who knows my mother knows that Maria is a treasure trove of interesting experiences and this is just the most recent tidbit to pop out of her bag of tricks. It got me thinking though, are tea leaves so different from clouds? I can’t honestly say I read clouds, but I will say that I see an awful lot of stuff going on up in the sky, and it more often than not is a guidepost for what is going on in my life.

For instance, last week I saw a Chinese dragon parading across an otherwise blue sky, and earlier this week a wizened old man, his face turned to the sunlight, made a brave final stand before dark rain clouds overtook him, obscuring him from my curious eyes. Long after he was gone from sight, I envisioned him still up there, face basking in the warmth of the sun, while the world beneath retreated indoors to avoid the rain. And to this day, I have not forgotten the pointy-eared goblin peering at me from his perch in the clouds, his gaze as firmly on me as mine was on him. Each of these fluffy flashes of imagery stir something in me, spur a thought I can explore or an emotion I can tease apart. They encourage me to look at things, look at myself, more closely, to act with more purpose.

I know what you are thinking, clouds are just clouds. But are they really? What had to transpire for me to be at my house in exactly the right position and to turn my face to the sky in the exact 30-second span that would result in me seeing that dragon, or the wizened old man, before they melted away? It makes me think, not just about clouds, but about all the things that happen each and every day that result in experiences that would not otherwise have happened. I think of my cancer treatment and the events that transpired that got me to Orlando Health, even though a perfectly okay hospital was just 15 minutes away (note – when being treated for cancer, you don’t want a “perfectly okay” hospital.) All the decisions I made regarding my treatment were a culmination of a vast number of people and events, of information that came at just the right time to provide just the right sense of comfort for me to make an informed decision that took me step-by-step through a process that could have gone south at any given time.

But it didn’t.

And so I turn to the clouds, and I follow the signs, wherever they may lead me. And that, I think, is the most important part of it all. If we are open to knowing, to listening, to understanding, then in some way what we seek will find its way to us, sometimes in ways we could never imagine.


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  1. I have always thought that Florida’s clouds tell more tales than Ohio’s clouds. Florida’s clouds appear to be closer to you, more free and at ease. Ohio’s clouds have jobs. Snow. Rain. Snow and rain at the same time. Summer months offer a short time for play to be dogs, cats, dragon. But not for long as Mother Nature calls the clouds back to work.

    • Maybe it is northern clouds in general. In Connecticut, I don’t recall the clouds being very talkative either. Then again, they were mostly obscured by trees, so who’s to know?


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