The Cloud Collector’s Handbook: Cloudy Images to Clear the Mind
Why cirrus, cumulus, and stratus are only the tiny tip of a floating iceberg. Or wait, I think I see a dinosaur!
By Kirstin Butler
From childhood on, we look to the clouds for inspiration, believing we can see the entire world in their protean shapes. This early sense of dreaminess is why I immediately fell in love with The Cloud Collector’s Handbook, a beautiful guide by author (and cloud-lover) Gavin Pretor-Pinney. A virtual catalog of air, the almanac provides classifications of the billows, masses, and wisps that provoke our awe and wonder, as well as descriptions of the meteorological conditions that lead to their creation.
Even better, though, The Cloud Collector’s Handbook turns cloudspotting into a game by challenging the reader to chase specific formations and mark down their sightings. Throughout the guidebook each species comes with a corresponding point value, with higher scores for infrequently seen varietals (like the incredibly rare horseshoe vortex).
Flipping through the book, I found myself dreaming of a cross-country roadtrip with a hawk-eyed companion and windows all the way down…
Founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, a global organization that fights “blue-sky thinking,” Pretor-Pinney published a manifesto explaining the inspiration behind his project.
Clouds are so commonplace that their beauty is often overlooked. They are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul. Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see in them will save on psychoanalysis bills.” ~ Gavin Pretor-Pinney
The Society’s 26,000-plus members have amassed a gorgeous gallery of images, from which it was remarkably hard to choose only a handful.
And in case looking up makes you think of the skies’ aqueous mirror, Pretor-Pinney also authored The Wave Watcher’s Companion, an equally whimsical guide to waves of all kinds: audio, brain, light, traffic, and, of course, water.
Published May 27, 2011