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  • Writer's pictureMonique Sliedrecht


Updated: Jan 4, 2021

It’s another crisp morning, clouds are hanging close to the horizon in the 'blue hour' of dawn. I make a coffee and stare out the kitchen window for a while, transfixed and half asleep before finding my way to my corner chair to read and respond to some new year messages.

There is the faint noise of a helicopter which gets louder and eventually reveals a closeness that makes me look up from my book and go to the front door. I follow the small dragonfly machine as it moves it's way across an azure blue sky, now full of pinks and bright oranges. The motor's rattling sound breaks the silence and causes some small birds to flutter off the telephone wire. As the chopper flies into the distant horizon, it's silhouette matching the size of the gulls over the sea, I stay and marvel at the sunrise which is now showing off clouds wrapped in a gold copper lining.

The cloudscapes of the last couple of weeks have been stunning, the atmosphere surprisingly clear and still, bringing along with it a wintry chill into these first days of January. Ice occasionally forms in the puddles on the laneway, and when the light is just right the small pools are like the tarns in the moorland on a calm day - mirrors to the sky.

It is interesting to consider all the cloud formations in their various colours and densities.

Lately it's been a scatter of mostly cumulus that allows the sun through, different than most typical winter-like days in the north of Scotland, in a blue so bright and fresh.

Occasionally the droplets create a vaporous sheet of suffused light, coming together to reflect the seemingly hidden sun. There's even a rainbow.

A friend asked about this photo: 'Is this what they call 'the gloaming'?' It's a lovely word, and I think it conveys the mood of this moment at dusk.

I never tire of these celestial surprises, and I realise, echoing Joni Mitchell's song: 'I really don't know clouds at all.'

Who can say it better than the poet, Shelley, in this final verse of his poem, Clouds:


I am the daughter of Earth and Water, And the nursling of the Sky; I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores; I change, but I cannot die. For after the rain when with never a stain The pavilion of Heaven is bare, And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams Build up the blue dome of air, I silently laugh at my own cenotaph, And out of the caverns of rain, Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb, I arise and unbuild it again.

-Percy Bysshe Shelley-

Happy New Year!

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