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BOB GRAY: White dazzle

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By Tuesday, Dec 1, 2015 Viewpoints

Housatonic — I’ve heard a wise, old, rhyme about clouds and approaching rough weather:

Mackerel scales and mare’s tails

Make lofty ships carry low sails.

The mackerel scales and mare’s tails are, respectively, cumulus clouds and cirrus clouds. Regardless of nomenclature, these cloud banks preclude unstable weather, the approach of a front bearing rain or snow within the next twenty-four hours.

But meteorological information can’t begin to describe what you’ll see if you look to the sky for a hint of what tomorrow might bring.

Working outdoors the other day, I was fortunate to watch a phalanx of stratocumulous clouds advancing along the mountain ridges to the east. The cloud ranks were still well-spaced so enough light seeped through to color the horizon soft, salmony pink to red.

White-gray clouds nearest me, still floated mostly independent; those following shaded darker, more ominous, blending into dark mass.

On such a morning, a man might step up for chores, wonder at the fluid colors and perhaps understand more clearly the old saw about red sky and morning.

And if he’s winter wishing on a snappy but drab December day, he can’t help but hope the changing weather might bring a little snow to relieve the boredom of the brown-gray days.

But by afternoon the wind’s swung to the south, it’s forty degrees, and a cold rain spatters onto the muddy ground.

There’ll be no white dazzle when he wakes up tomorrow morning. He’ll have only his sunrise memory to get him hoping again.

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