A Herd of Elephants!

The Beach Today

Floodlit by a Sunbeam

Look at the way the sun is breaking through the clouds and highlighting some waves as they spill in towards the shore. The sun makes the white of their ‘fuss and bother frills’ glow and shine! Further out white flecks contrast against the deep grey, almost glass-black of the sea, the excited energy of the water hardly being contained and fizzing to the surface.

And it is not just about the waves, look up. The clouds wherever you are present an endless screening of drama and beauty. Here we have a stage full of boisterous cumulus, towering clouds, hovering low and reaching high up and up like over-baked soufflés. Today there are a whole army of them, you can see row upon row, scudding menacingly across the sea. Seething energy above and below, mirrored.

Did you know?

Gavin Pretor-Pinney in his amusing and very readable book ‘The Cloudspotter’s Guide’ explains that according to ancient Hindu and Buddhist beliefs cumulus clouds were the spiritual cousins of elephants. The myths (Sanskrit) describe white elephants flying on wings, who could shape-shift and had powers to bring rain – the reason that they were worshipped as they brought relief in the form of rain to the scorching summer earth. Perhaps then the collective noun for clouds in the sky should be a ‘herd’?

However long we stare upwards we may not spot an elephant above us, it is amazing to think that if we added up the weight of all the water droplets in the clouds we can see in this picture above, it would weigh the equivalent of eighty elephants!

“How does water, the equivalent to eighty elephants rise to form a cumulus?”

“Thermals are the invisible spirits that give life to the cumulus. They bring it into being, flowing through it, animating it.”

Gavin Pretor-Pinney: The Cloudspotter’s Guide: 2006: Hodder & Stoughton: London page 28
A Herd of Clouds

Still worried about the eighty elephants above you? Am I sure they are that heavy?

Yep: Assume that the cloud is occupying one cubic kilometre (about 0.24 cubic miles) which is not particularly large for a cumulus, the droplets will commonly have a combined weight of 200,000kg. The average Asian elephant weighs 2,500kg….. (Ref: Mr G Pretor-Pinney – see above)

Cumulus clouds are all individual clouds, rising due to the heating of the earth, which warms the air next to it, the air then expands, becomes lighter and rises, carrying invisible moisture droplets. The sky is therefore a kind of map of the different textures of the land. For example, earth warms from the sun more rapidly than water, so a cloud will form and rise above a ploughed field or a tarmac driveway on a sunny day as wander on a breeze out above the sea to adorn a blue sky.

Provides a real insight into the power and energy circulating around us at any one time doesn’t it? Wherever you are today – look up, are you under some elephants? (Perhaps it is sunrise or sunset with you and you are lucky enough to sport Nelly-the Pink!)

Reflective Moment

That waves pictured above as it canters inland has gone. Some of the water is still there, and the energy has been transferred, never lost, but the way it tips, foams, churns and surges forwards is done, past, gone. I can stand all day caught up in this idea saying to myself, ‘I will just watch one more forever wave….okay, maybe one more….’, reluctant to ever turn away and miss a single one.

The same with clouds when I look up – or see them reflected in the wet sand – they shape shift permanently, like a kaleidoscope as a child, permanent evolving pattern to watch with wonder: And they are never the same, always different, always changing – no repeats! Like our days.

Days may feel similar. But they are not. To remember this keeps us in the present moment, striving to do the best we can each day and eager to catch every single moment before it has gone – or just relax and take a day or two to just enjoy and not do anything at all other than watch clouds…or waves.

The Sound of the Sea Today

“Create each day anew”.

Morihei Ueshiba

The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, was born on December 14, 1883, to a farming family in rural Japan.

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