29 September 2022

Coming in cloud and clear, 'weather' you're ready or not

| Sally Hopman
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Storm clouds

When storm clouds look to be sending you a message as they close in on your broken home as they regularly did at Bungendore – head under the bed. Photo: Sally Hopman.

One of the best people I know loves clouds. Makes sense, really. She is whimsical, yet tough, floaty yet firm when it comes to the important things in life. She writes the best words to go with the clouds while all I can do is snap out-of-focus pics of them and call them art – because my eyes are still closed around sunrise when I shoot them.

I get what she sees in them. Getting up early if that special sort of light wafts in from the outside.

Apparently there are lots of names for clouds. Fancy ones that are hard to spell, but I just go with fluffy, dark, not-so-dark and outright scary.

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Once I lived in an old farmhouse at Bungendore that was missing part of its roof and most of its back room. But it had the best side window – not a lot of glass in it, but an excellent window all the same.

Almost all of that side of the house was window. I could have seen as far as somewhere foreign had I known which direction was south.

I used to spend a lot of time out there, mainly trying to attach gaffer tape to the holes in the roof before the weather set in, securing it with the remains of nests that birds, which also seemed to love that room as much as me, had helpfully created.

Horse under cloud

It took hours to get this horse to stand under the cumulus equinus (don’t waste your time looking it up) when it looked its most threatening – the clouds not the horse. Photo: Sally Hopman.

That was the thing, you see. I could see the clouds coming for miles.

They started off white then, as if they were mucking around in the paintbox, grew darker and darker as they approached the roof and windowless house.

It was almost like a dare. Who could get there first? Me with the gaffer tape which always ran out with the first clap of thunder or the rain, which seemed to know exactly where the biggest holes were.

I’d snap pictures of approaching storms and post them on social media. My friends would respond with the familiar words that they should have made into a stamp considering how often they used them: are you OK?

It’s just a storm, I’d say. Looks like there’s no glass in your window, they’d say. It’s really OK, said I, heading under the bed.

But it was fine, I had buckets. Lots of buckets. Bouquets of them.

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Just as I was wondering whether I should sign myself up for BA, Buckets Anonymous, I’d find myself in Aldi, again, not buying anything I went in for, but immersing myself in buckets. My favourites were the ones made from soft material that could stand up by themselves – except, for some reason, when you filled them with liquid.

The room was carpeted in buckets. It was clearly meant to be as when I moved in, there were already two buckets, the size of a wading pool that would easily house a large-boned child and their pony, already there. They were filled with what I initially thought was water but after a close whiff, not so much. Rank. Just as well there was no glass in the window.

Storm clouds over country road

You have to love a cloud that looks like, if you venture over the hill, it will take you to another, clearly wilder, land. Photo: Sally Hopman.

I wonder if the fascination we have for weather has to do with the fact it is one of the few things in life we have absolutely no control over. Or it could just be because I lived in the bush for many years with a water tank that always had more cobwebs than water. No, it didn’t have holes in it, it was The Drought. (Older reader please explain the concept to younger reader).

At the time, I worked the night shift in town and would regularly “borrow” water from where I worked to bring home in great big containers. After a while, when I realised I couldn’t actually lift the really big containers, it turned out to be not one of my better ideas.

But it helped fill in the dry spells between the water carter’s visits, the bloke whose kids I put through school … Swiss finishing school.

Original Article published by Sally Hopman on Riotact.

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