March often arrives with skyscapes such as these. Low-lit shower clouds, pregnant with hail and snow, provide a dramatic setting for a foreground of lemon daffodils and the last fading snowdrops. Clouds, though, are much more than a theatre-style painted backdrop. Composed of droplets they may be, but clouds have their own architecture. They’re imposing, solid; they grow and evolve like living beings. It’s easy to see why I became a meteorology student all those years ago: weather is impressive stuff.
I’ve forgotten almost as much as I ever learned about clouds, but I can at least tell you that the cumulus and cumulonimbus filling the sky last week were towering literally miles above your head. Charged by the energy of the Atlantic and riding in on an ocean-cooled breeze (the sea has another few weeks of cooling to go before spring catches up with it), March and April showers are winter’s last hurrah, a final defiant flurry of cold rain, sleet, hail and wet snow.
Sudden cloudbursts on campus send people scurrying from doorway to doorway, but I genuinely enjoy this sort of weather. A day with meteorological drama is more surprising, entertaining and thus more memorable. Whether the birds are grateful for such disruptive conditions I’m less sure. As ever, kites were the most visible birds struggling against the swirling squalls. With fine steering control from their rudder-like, ever twisting forked tail, they’re masters of the mad March weather.