Clouds on the First Horizon Building, Gay Street, Knoxville, October 2023 (Photograph by Luke Frazier)
(Today’s article is by recurring guest writer Luke Frazier, a relatively new Knoxville resident who continues to explore the city.)
I’ve kept my eye on the cloud reflections on the First Horizon building for about a year now, ever since moving to Knoxville. I don’t remember the first time I noticed them, but I’m positive it made it a better day from that moment on. Now I check the glass in 27 story, 327 foot high tower every chance I get.
One time I heard a weatherman say there was going to be “broken clouds across the region” that afternoon, and I thought to myself how stupid that was. How could a cloud ever possibly be anything but its own perfectness? Talk about things that are just what they are and don’t need to be anything else—that’s the very nature of clouds. Clouds are the epitome of “such-ness.” They don’t need fixed, cause they ain’t broke.
Of course clouds can be scattered, or intermittent. They can be threatening and puffy too. They can be dark, hazy, wispy, radiant, ominous, and so much more. They can look like animals or familiar objects. They can be a call to action or an invitation to enjoy. Clouds can be just about anything we need them to be, and having your head in them sometimes isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Clouds have a quality of mood that is worth paying attention to, and not just to figure out if it’s going to rain. Clouds set the tone, stir the pot, shake the canasta, turn-round the turnover. Clouds connect the dots and make the simmering pot boil. Or they hang there waiting. They ask for nothing, and give back so much.
Curse the clouds on the picnic day, say something about the unfortunate sky. But there is always the other side, or sides, and clouds reckon they don’t need your approval anyway. Some may worship a cloudless sky, but I liken that to a cult of complacency. Sure, it’s good to be content, but without the shadow where is the light?
I joined the Cloud Appreciation Societya while ago and got my membership pin and cloud spotting guide in the mail from England. Although I haven’t put it on my resume yet, it’s not because I’m not proud. I celebrate my fellow cloud mavens even as I realize diving too deep into this sky pool might get tricky. The science behind clouds isn’t the most compelling thing for me, it’s the poetry they bring to daily life.
When I walk south down Gay Street toward the Tennessee River and take in the reflections, see the connections between glass and sky, feel the moments as the scene develops in the sky I am nourished. Snap a picture or not; the image burns a beauty mark in my mind. I am a smattering of star dust looking up from a sidewalk while my cloud-mates wander above, whispering chants of rapture.