The last couple of days have been exceptional ones for cloud watchers in northern California. I could spend all day watching clouds. I have many cloud photos. Some are better than others. However, it’s not always convenient (or safe) to stop and snap.
So, I will describe my journey through a stormy afternoon. Close your eyes (after reading this) and imagine snow flying at you as you wind through tall pine forests. You skirt deep, river-filled canyons and finally descend into the valley. Pale sky appears above you. To the north, heavy blue clouds drain onto the valley floor as they approach the mountains in the east.
Pale pink and deep blue clouds pile up on the mountains in the west, obscuring the sun as you turn south. In the foreground, golden fields of grain are falling into shadow. Far ahead you see a line of airborne specks in the shape of a V growing larger, spreading out, with more behind it.
Soon the sky above you is filled with geese headed north for the night by the light of a misshapen moon. One large goose flies low, neck stretched ahead of heavy body, patrolling the edge of a field. Now look east, where the sky has turned magenta above a deep blue mass that obscures the Sierra Nevada mountains. This is the Sacramento River valley at the end of a stormy day in October.
As the colors fade you head east through orchards, slowly climbing out of the valley and into still pale hills. The remnants of clouds dance across the sky as you swing back and forth among the oak-studded hillsides. You are almost home.