How Clouds Form: The Orographic Lifting of the Mother

Another method by which clouds form is through the lifting of air by an advancing storm system or, more often, by the slope of a hill or mountain, in which case the process of cloud formation is called orographic lift- ing. Consider an argument between our parents to be a storm system. Consider the curve of our mother’s breast to be the slope of a hill or mountain. Consider the breath expelled from our lungs to be the moving air. In rising up the slope of the breast, our air currents cool to the point at which condensation occurs, and a fog forms, obscuring our mother’s gentle face, an effect the opposite of which we had intended. If our mother remains reclined upon the mattress, such fog greatly inhibits our ability to witness the emotional tics about her mouth as we rest upon her belly. If our mother chooses to stand, stretch, and walk about the house to attend to her duties, we cannot help but toddle after her, seek out her comforting form, hope that she will return us to her embrace. The fog, however, slowly descends to the level of her waist, obscuring the tops of our heads from her vision and inducing in us an uncertain fear, forever prickling us with vertigo, a later vertigo that will insinuate itself into the grown-up machinations of our lives: we will at times certainly doubt our lover, find our careers to be undesirable, worry at the steering wheel as we pull our automobile into traffic.

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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.