The Wisdom of Clouds, in Africa and Elsewhere, Part 1

By Tom Cole April 8, 2016

There’s a line in the Micato brochure about clouds on the Serengeti that “pile up in grandly crazy towers, looking like computer-generated special effects.” A colleague took mild issue with the last part of that description—the special effects part. “Too jarring,” she said. “It takes you away from the actual world.”

There may be some truth in that. But so digital is our world—and so photoshopped our photographs—that we sometimes fleetingly wonder if what we’re seeing is actual, or whipped up for our benefit by some unseen Oz with a whizbang computer.

It’s one of the joys of safari that—though it might take a day or two—we realize with pleasure- bordering-on-relief that wilderness Africa isn’t some sort of dreampark or hologram. “I’m spending a lot of time,” a New York Times writer said in a safari article recently, “trying to make what is happening seem real.”

Well, I’m glad you’re getting out more, I thought. Because, safari, as Isak Dinesen wrote, is definitely “the really true world–where I probably once lived 10,000 years ago.”

And when we settle into the eternally non-virtual world of safari’s World Apart, we begin to see things freshly. Clouds, for instance.

In my next blog, I’ll do some cloud-extolling and pondering and I’ll propound the theory that if great, fabulously billowing, scenically triumphant clouds lasted for a few days, plutocrats–frustrated that they couldn’t buy them–would nonetheless fly from far away in their jets, just to see them.

Up Next: The Truth About the Taj Mahal, Part 2