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Weekly Contemplations of a Non-Conformist: The Greatness of a Cloudy Day

By Alex Newhouse in Opinion & Politics

Yeah, I'm back. From my three-week absence, I return, rising again like the sun every day. This is my dawn, you might say. Or you might say I was busy and got sidetracked, what with debate tournaments and a trip to New York and a three-day weekend. Either way, my return was inevitable, and eagerly anticipated with bated breath, I'm sure. And now it arrives, but it is not heralded by clouds and a wintry storm but with the sun, bringing with it seventy degree days and spring-like weather.

It's not my ideal return, by any means.

It shocks many people to hear that I absolutely, undeniably love those dark, gloomy, cloudy days in winter when day is only differentiated from night by a slight increase in visibility. Those days are the best days, in my book. It is not a lively, warm spring day that makes me happy, but rather a cool, overcast day with a slight drizzle in October. Just writing this now makes me desperately want the sun to go away.

The sun is so constant! There is nothing unchanging about the sun. It is always there, always shining, traveling in its same, uninteresting path for the more than trillionth time in the Earth's existence. There is nothing spontaneous about the sun. When the sun shines, you know what will happen. It will be relatively warm. The sky will be blue. There might be a couple clouds in the sky. Snow will melt; rain will evaporate. The grass will get greener, the flowers will bloom. Boring.

I want the days when nature is whimsical, when the sky goes from a flat white to dark gray, from dry to blizzarding, from cool to frigid. I want the days when the rain pelts the ground, creating that wonderful smell of wet pavement, clean and clear and pure. Those days when that rain slowly changes and freezes, becoming cold sleet, then softening and coming down in fragile crystals that we call snow. Interesting is not the passage of the sun, but rather the gradual accumulation of snow on a pine branch, seeing each individual flake catch on the green needles that contrast so brilliantly with the white.

The sky is always out of reach when it is sunny, miles and miles above, a dome for the stars and not for us. But when it is cloudy, the sky can come down, towards the ground, and the great blanket of gray can envelop our land, allowing us to touch those clouds that bring the snow. And these clouds are not static. They move with reckless abandon, giving up their precipitation before moving on. Their dance is always exciting and entrancing.

Heat is the worst of the crimes of a sunny day, however. Heat is uncomfortable, unbearable, and with it often comes the piercing glare of the sun. There is nothing you can do in the heat but stay inside with the air conditioning on.

The cold, however, is a blessing. It is rejuvenating, not painful, to go outside when it is slightly cold and to breathe in that frozen air, allowing your lungs to fill with it. The cold clears your mind whereas heat slows it. And the clouds present no opportunity to blind you.

For me, a cloudy day is synonymous with solitude and introspection. There is something personal about an overcast day, something that connects you with the ever-changing quality of nature. I always feel more in touch with the world beyond civilization when it is cloudy, because the silence that snow brings and the soft white noise of the rain are reminders that weather exists outside the control of humanity. There is nothing like the silence of a blizzard. Everything is quiet, and the light is soft as the snow falls. It is serene.

People tell me that I will get tired of the snowy days if I go to college in New England. But I know that I will always appreciate those cloudy days. There is always something new to do, something more to appreciate, and the serenity of those cold, dark days will always be my companion. I find no misery when the sun doesn't shine, I find solace and awareness and clarity.

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