• Susan Fleming Morgans

I've Looked At Clouds That Way

Rows and floes of angel hair

And Ice cream castles in the air

And feather canyons everywhere

I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun

They rain and snow on everyone

So many things I would have done

But clouds got in my way


Joni Mitchell’s lyrics to “Both Sides Now,” recorded by Judy Collins in 1967 and by dozens of artists ranging from Neil Diamond to Sara Bareilles, were on my mind when my husband and I neared Pittsburgh last week after an 11-hour drive from Charleston, S. C.,where we spent eight days relaxing on the beach and enjoying the historic "Holy City."



“It’ll be raining when we get home,” I complained just past Morgantown, where threatening nimbus clouds emerged. “You’re probably right,” Hal answered (although he says that about everything, no dummy, this man). Still, he could not have forgotten that when we left on vacation the previous week, he drove in hard rain until we crossed the North Carolina border.

As I predicted, within minutes of pulling into our driveway, the downpour came, so hard that we could not unpack the car till the next morning.


Clouds outside Morgantown—we're almost home!

I appreciate that a surfeit of rain has created our lush Pittsburgh spring (and I’ll concede that South Carolina is experiencing a drought). Still, I couldn’t help wondering, like Joni and Judy, what I would do if clouds weren’t constantly getting in my way. Here’s the start of my list:


· Walk my dog without taking an umbrella because it always rains at about the halfway mark

· Read a book on the dry outdoor chaise lounge on my dry deck

· Have a summer outdoor get-together without an alternate plan


Hmmm, I can’t think of much more. I guess the rain doesn’t much affect what I do. But the weather definitely affects my mood. On gloomy mornings, I want to stay in bed and read till noon. When I wake up to blue skies and cottony cumulus clouds, my spirit soars. I hop out of bed, full of energy and determined to have a great day.


I doubt I am the only person in Pittsburgh, where it’s sunny less than one-third of the time, who reacts this way to the weather. As much as I love the drama of the Golden Triangle when I shoot out of the Ft. Pitt Tunnel on a sunny day, there just aren’t enough of those days. Attribute it to southern hospitality, if you like, but I think the sun and blue skies is why so many Charlestonians (and their guests) were smiling last week.


We need more days like this in Pittsburgh.


OK, I’ll try to put a positive spin on things. Enjoying a different climate is one of the benefits of travel—it provides a chance to see things in a new way. Nope, didn’t work. Charleston convinced me that everything looks better when there’s a fluffy white cloud in the picture.



Don’t get me wrong—I’m always glad to get home to Pittsburgh—to my family, my friends, my dog, my own bed and my backyard, which is gorgeous this month thanks to all the rain.

There will be plenty of other times to enjoy ice cream castles and feather canyons in the air. Until then, hoping to make magic, my mantra will be the lyrics to Irving Berlin’s 1926 “Blue Skies,” recorded by Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and many others and was a No. 1 hit for Willie Nelson in 1978:


Blue skies smiling at me

Nothing but blue skies do I see…



And believe it or not, there are Charleston clouds today (above) in my own backyard. I'm gonna play frisbee with my dog!

AWARD-WINNING WRITER & EDITOR

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