The Prune: ‘I’ve got sunshine, on a cloudy day…’ — The Temptations

Whether digital or cumulus, clouds contain beauty, wonder and mystery.

by Todd Sharp

My head has been in the clouds lately filled with beautiful grays, whites and darkness. I love a beautiful cloudless sunny day as much as the next guy, but the rainy gray days seem to hold more interest for me with their complexities of pattern and subtle nuanced difference in the sky.

The clouds show the intricacies of subtle shades of gray, green edges leading to pale peach from nearly black whisps of plum sliding into royal blue broken with the dull yellow hue of an old man’s beard — light, bright, white to dark, dark red, circling back to patterns of swirling gray water droplets.

I met this wonderful art teacher from UW-FdL, William “Griff” Griffin, at a coffee shop a few years back. We struck up a conversation and realized we had so much to talk about. He liked to talk and I like to listen.

The time we spent talking passed in a blink and an hour would go by as if we had just started to exchange “hello.” I had so much to share but realized I needed to listen.

I was supposed to be working at my job, but I was learning so much. I’m convinced this was somehow part of my job.

He was an inspiring man who asked me what color I see when I look at clouds.

As children, we draw puffy white clouds and blue sky to fill in the page, representing the sky.
The real sky is much more complex and delightfully colorful. Clouds are rarely just white, the sky only blue or the sun yellow.

Griff pointed out some people looking into the sky see only gray and white clouds, missing so much. They miss the nuance of purples and greens in the gray, shades of yellow in the brightness with the contrast in the darkness.

That large, loud art professor spoke to me and gave me words to express the artistic metaphor which resonated with how I felt about rainy days, sunny days and seeing the beautiful complexities in light and the shadows always around us.

I can’t help but think about the new form of storing our memories in a cloud.

Our entire digital life’s memory is stored and residing in clouds of information. The complexities are so vast and compelling, the mosaic of the information might look like a big gray mass, yet when we look at the details in the information we see slivers of color and imagination, bright strings of turquoise, veins of copper, scarlet reds and the tangerine of life.

Clouds of information stored in huge electronic farms in their simplest form are just ones and zeros, but there are also the complexity and artistic poetry of pictures and words strung together creating meaning and carving out difficult simplicities.

This week’s Green Laker is filled with many dynamic pictures of how we see this beautiful area we live in through the lens of the colorful people who live here and make it their vacation destination.

To you and to Griff, thanks for sharing your vision.

Griff died a few years ago, but his rich, multi-colored personality and light shines brightly in the many students and people he came into contact with. He gave me much more than hours of delightful conversation.

He gave me a vibrant way to look at the world.

Editor’s note: When his head is not in the clouds, Todd Sharp is an advertising sales prune for the Green Laker, Express and The Ripon Commonwealth Press.