The Amazing Lovecraftian Jellyfish-Cloud!
Blerg. Upcoming school weirdness is distracting. That plus some unpleasant news sort of ate the creative part of my brain for a bit. Back now, however, and feeling much better after a good night’s sleep and a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs with blue cheese — rather tasty and interesting flavor from that! It’s a beautiful sunshiny day outside, and I’m working on my zen habits: what has happened is not good nor bad; it simply is. Mmmm… ;)
So! Cloud-squids, yes; got it. Okay. So, I was driving along in southern New Mexico, heading towards home and with my mind idly wandering. It’s curiously pleasant to be alone like that sometimes. It gives you plenty of time with your thoughts, and you can sort of lazily ponder issues as they occur to you, with no expectations or demands of earth-shaking answers to occur to you — subjects like: am I on the right track according to google maps, why did I make this trip, does the strongest radio station of a region reflect its ethos in music, what non-exploitative businesses could we encourage in financially struggling states instead of gambling and prostitution, is there still enough gas in Dark Star or do I need to stop soon and use the restroom, and so on. In some cases it becomes rather trance-like — curiously peaceful and enjoyable — it can be almost like dreaming while awake. Oddly, I’ve been told there are people who find that terrifying; I don’t exactly know why, though.
So as I was driving along, a couple of hours into my day, I glanced out the car window. It occurred to me that these particular mountains were… kind of namby-pamby. Off in the distance, sort of diffident — not really participating in making a lovely landscape for me, you know? I tended to get somewhat mentally frivolous on occasion, just for the fun of it, and I grinned and started a sort of mental “tsk!”-ing at the landscape I was driving through. Such lackadaisical little hillocks out there! Such small, unimpressive valleys! Why, in other states I’d seen valleys so huge and wide-sprawling that they extended for as far as the eye could see! Those were valleys — far and wide enough that the fringing mountains had to really stand up impressively to be noticed. Valleys so enormous and dramatic that you could actually watch the movement of the shadows of the huge, slow-roaming clouds drifting overhead as you drove through them.
About an hour into such lighthearted musings I suddenly registered that the landscape had changed while I wasn’t paying attention. Abruptly there were mountains up close! When did they sneak up on me so fast? Further, the nature of the valleys had changed as well. Through the optical illusion that can occur when there’s nothing really noteworthy to measure distance against, I realized the valley I was driving through was actually much larger than I’d realized! I was rolling along one edge of the valley, possibly a few hundred feet higher than the long sweep of the rest of the valley, and so it was clearly spread out to my left and before me, for me to admire: a broad expanse of low scrub desert wilderness, with acres and acres of neatly maintained fields and farmland beyond that, going as far as my eyes could see, until the shadowy, misty mountains on the far horizon. I blinked, then grinned ruefully as I remembered: I was in New Mexico! Clearly the mind-control lasers had picked up on my amused disdain and resentfully changed my environment to teach me a lesson. ;)
It was about then that I realized (as I stole quick, surreptitious glances at the lovely, green, fertile valley before me) that I could also see the shadows of the looming clouds overhead drifting in incredibly slow majesty across the valley floor. In fact… those clouds were really looming thickly! I was having trouble seeing the far horizon due to how densely foggy they were, and how low they were hanging. It wasn’t a uniform, blanketing layer of cloud, though. It almost seemed as if one high-piled, huge-tumbled thunderhead was pacing me, deliberately blocking my view of the horizon in an artistic arrangement of sunlight and shadow on the valley’s lush green croplands, all made small by distance. The cloud almost looked as if I could gather it into my arms, in fact — a big, puffy cushion of misty, feathery tendrils of damp fog.
That illusion didn’t last long, however — the cloud’s sort of friendly-to-neutral colors of pristine white, creamy ivory, and pale gray slowly darkened into more ominous shades of steel blue and darkening slate, and I eventually realized the heavy misting under the cloud was rain. It appeared to be a lot of rain, in fact — sheeting torrents so powerful that you could see the wind ripples within the washed-out dim blues and shimmering misty grays hanging beneath the cloud. I watched with fascination, realizing the hovering cloud itself was starting to look much like a jellyfish hood, with a tangled mass of tentacles hanging beneath it to feel up the ground they dragged over — tentacles so long and writhing that their passage was throwing up a low-hanging layer of fog over the earth below.
I watched with a mix of awe and delighted amazement — and also a healthy dose of relief that the jellyfish-cloud was coming no closer to me as I drove! It was weirdly beautiful and alien and creepy, and it lasted for as long as I was in the valley. I tried to get a photo, but it didn’t turn out at all. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, though; how could you possibly photograph the marvelous illusory creations of the New Mexico mind-control lasers? ;)
It’s not really mindless, though, is it? It’s more like… a sort of trance, perhaps? Letting your non-conscious mind idly sort through whatever happens to burble up into your only half-conscious mind, while you continue on autopilot whatever it is you are doing. Admittedly, I think you have to be comfortable with yourself in order to do it well, but I always find it to be an excellent way to, say, organize what my school papers are going to be about, or plot a story. I think it’s most like awake dreaming, really?
That mindlessness state you get while driving is a very powerful tool. Bob misses that from his daily commute up 17, and I understand that. I like to drive to Seattle occasionally to get a dose of it myself.
I have no idea why it would bother people but it might explain why they’re so desperately “busy” with cell phones and other distractions.
Clouds and impressive vista are virtually impossible to get light, color, and scale right. Ansel Adams cheated like nobody’s business to get his amazing photos.
There’s only one way you could have caught the effect: Photoshop. =)