Daily Connector | How is winter going? | Dan Halterman


Many more grey-sky days than sunny.  At least fifty shades.

Peter Yoder disdains a blue sky in his paintings.  I look at the sky regularly, day and night, and enjoy cloud-gazing, thunder-storm roiling bulges, and sunsets that distribute unpaintable variations.   A good sunset, often delightfully enhanced by air pollutants, spreads a continuum of dark to lighter greys to subtle and fleeting thin greens and a reach of hues of oranges and reds against a backdrop of fading shades of blue.  Then comes the horizon’s final deepest purple stretched to overhead near-black.  Then night.  That’s roughly why Peter, putting oil on canvas, when he comes to skies, refuses blueses.

Childhood winter memories, from more than five decades past in northeast Ohio, suggest frequent (probably not permanent, memory being what it is) snow cover.  And blinding bright sunny days (which probably were infrequent, memory being what it is).  I believe I’d be more OK with these regular grey skies if snow were more common and long-lasting.  And I choose to refer to the sky as grey rather than say “grey days” because the latter is more subjective.  We may have had mostly grey sky in my childhood winters (northeast Ohio is the second-most cloudy region of the U.S.), but regular snow meant regular fun that cloud cover couldn’t diminish:

sledding in the road (we lived at the bottom of a hill); sledding through five backyards to our “crick” when conditions were perfect; bigger kids constructing a snowman in the intersection of our street with a side-street and directing traffic until a police officer encouraged the snowman to hasten his crossing; “trains” of runner sleds, each rider placing his feet into the steering gear of the sled behind and uncoupling once full-speed was attained, the whole incipient disaster usually great fun.  Sledding often lasted until after dark, when moms called us to our respective suppers and I stalked stiff-legged (jeans frozen solid) into our warm kitchen, peeling off ice-crusted knit mittens and the hard pants, dripping through the house.  I don’t recall many “grey days” then, regardless of the sky.

If you want to open your mind a bit about “grey sky” and other cloud phenomena, I suggest reading “The Cloudspotter's Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds” by Gavin Pretor-Pinney (available from the Columbus Metropolitan Library).  If you get really hooked, you might join the Cloud Appreciation Society and (from their manifesto) “pledge to fight ‘blue-sky thinking’ wherever we find it. Life would be dull if we had to look up at cloudless monotony day after day.”