First of all, I love clouds. The bright, fluffy ones… the wispy ones that the wind sweeps along… even the dark, rumbling ones fascinate me.
I remember a seventh grade science project for Mrs. Caldwell, when she was teaching us about clouds… cummulus, cumulo-nimbus, cirro-cumulus and more. She assigned us a project to illustrate the kinds of clouds on a poster. As I recall, it was left us to us how to best accomplish this.
Being the overachiever that I was, I decided that, rather than merely illustrate it, I would create a three dimensional poster using cotton balls. It would be grand and the envy of my classmates. I drew out an elaborate scene beneath where the clouds would be, showing which would create rain and/or storms, and which would be present on sunny days.
Once I was pleased with the drawing, I set about creating the clouds. Mama had bought a bag of cotton balls for me to use, and of course, I had waited until the last night before the project was due to start on the clouds. I got out my Elmer’s glue and began on the left side of the poster, delicately positioning each cotton ball in its perfect place. I could already imagine the oohs and aaahs that would escape from Mrs. Caldwell as she surveyed my masterpiece.
I was planning to use gray tempera paint lightly layered on top of the nimbo-stratus clouds, as those are the dark clouds of storms. The strato-cumulus clouds would be thick and placed close together to illustrate the big, fluffly clouds of a sunny day, and of course, it would all match the illustration I had running beneath the clouds. It was going to be a thing of beauty.
However, as I got about 1/3 of the way across the poster, I was almost out of cotton balls. This, of course, was pre-WalMart, and everything in my hometown closed around 6:00. Even if a store had been opened, I think Mama was going to let me learn the hard way about procrastination.
My mind raced for a solution. I started trying to pull up some of the most recently placed cotton balls so that I could spread them more thinly. Of course, a cotton ball with glue being handled by fingers now covered in glue resembles a gooey glob more than a wispy cloud. So that wouldn’t work. What to do?!?!
I started trying to strreeeeettcch the cotton that was already glued down across the rest of the poster. The remaining balls in the bag were also stretched and thinned to the point they looked like gauze, and the glue showed right through them. A good 2/3 of the poster now looked like cirrus clouds–the thin, wispy kind that look like the outline of the wind.
Of course, now the clouds did not match the illustration underneath! I was distraught! My perfect project was now a gluey, stringy mess, and I knew that I would not leave Mrs. Caldwell’s class in triumph, but with my head hung low, a dark, little nimbo-stratus cloud following me around. I believe I made a C on the project.
I’d like to say I learned my lesson about procrastination, but I’d be lying. I think the only thing good to come out of that experience was that the names of the different types of clouds are now indelibly burned into my brain.