Running from Clouds

Notes from the Field is Wand'rly Magazine's take on exploring our country's natural side.

puffy clouds against a deep blue sky

By

When I was a kid, living with my three cousins on our families farmland, we would play a game where you ran from the clouds. More accurately defined, the only rule to this game was that you had to run as fast as you could, trying to outrun the shadow cast by a large cloud as it passed in front of the sun.

Ample fields around—summer in rural Pennsylvania—with high enough humidity and frequent but scattered rain, there was no shortage of blue sky with a few puffy cumulus islands floating around. We would run away an afternoon if we’d like. It was the purest form of childhood innocence, adolescent boys putting their lungs and feet to the test, trying to become one with nature by moving along the earth as quickly as the sky could chase their heels.

We’d even leap over barbed wire fences at times, like white tailed deer, but with admittedly less grace and considerably more effort.

I’m watching the clouds toss shadows over the Patriarchs of Zion National Park and its reminding me of all of this. These massive towers of sandstone both testaments to the serenity of nature and the peace of lands left largely undisturbed by human progress, tower above me, casting their own shadow as they continuously follow the Earth’s own run around the sun. Then I get to thinking that this traveling life we’ve carved out is similar to running from clouds.

There’s no real point to it. No final outcome. I can’t recall how easy it was for us to outrun those big shadows back then, but eventually they’d overcome us for sure. Clouds don’t get tired, after all, little boys do. It doesn’t matter much though does it? We’ve got places we want to see, people, things we want to do, sure.

But in the bigger picture, we’re just running from clouds, patch to patch to pass away the days in a more pleasant manner than taking up one spot on the farmhouse porch and looking our days away.