How Clouds Form: The Natural Convection of the Father

Clouds form when the temperature of moist air cools suddenly to its relative dew point, thus allowing the invisible water vapors of the moist air to condense into a collection of tiny water droplets bound together by their similar chemical structures and the unspoken refrain echoing throughout our father’s head – How shall I punish my son? How shall I punish my son? How shall I punish my son? In this case, consider the natural convection of our father: he paces across the hardwood of his study, angrily reflecting upon some recent mishap, some recent baseness on the part of his son, and where our father treads, the friction of his shoes creates unequal heating upon the surface of the floor, which causes the air above his footsteps to rise quickly, thus destabilizing the atmosphere about his temples and creating the right conditions for the formation of clouds. We see these clouds from the backseat of the family car, from the soft enclosures of our playpens, from the booster seats in which we are strapped, as parental messages of disappointment: Son, you have disobeyed me. Son, you have failed me. Son, you are an offensive blemish upon my skin.

Ryan Call lives in Houston with his wife. Excerpts from his ongoing field guide to North American weather have been published by mlpress, Lamination Colony, sleepingfish, and Everyday Genius.