In The Defence of Grey Skies
In a world that is in love with days that glow with the warmth of sunlight, the humble grey sky gets a pretty bad rep. What is there to love about the cool and the quiet of a cloudy, rainy day when the sun is hidden away and hibernating? There seems to be a universal consensus that the arrival of grey skies and rainy days ruin the best-laid adventure plans. Who wants to hike in the rain? Who wants to visit the coast when the sun isn’t shining? Well, to that I say, “never underestimate the power of an overcast day.” Some of the best adventures, some of the most memorable and inspiring days in the great outdoors start with a muddy puddle and drizzle dripping from the sky.
When a day is bright and the sky is blue, everything is presented exactly as it is: there is no mystery. On a rainy day, when the oppressive clouds come down from their kingdoms in the sky and perch on the tops of hills, the edges of the world begin to blur and the imagination is encouraged to run free. Instead of the crystal blue clarity of sunshine, a grey-skied day evokes a magical sense of wonder, in which anything and everything could be possible. Just look at the classic fairy-tale tropes: no story full of magic and mystery, myth and adventure begins on a day that is without the tell-tale rumble of thunder or the swirling mists that dance through the forests. A grey day is not simply preferable for a story to begin: it is necessary.
A blue sky presents the landscape as it is, but a grey sky presents a landscape with hidden factors, with layers of interpretation and meaning and reality. The landscape becomes our own and our imagination shapes it. Clouded mountains become sleeping dragons, rainy forests are suddenly home to all manner of mythical creatures, ghostly cloud-shapes haunt landscapes that otherwise would have been unremarkable. “Wuthering Heights” just would not have been the same if Cathy had wandered the moors, getting lost under a bright, shining sun. The grey, rainy weather was essential to creating the evocative, haunting moods captured in the novels by authors like the Brontë sisters and it still remains essential, all these years later.
Grey skies allow us to connect with our inner child. All we have to do is lose our heavy cloak of adulthood and look at the world with wonder, with curiosity, and with an unceasing optimism. Wander through a landscape that is damp with mist and mizzle and don't hide under the brim of umbrellas or hoods. Look ahead and find shapes in the shadows, dance with folklorish creatures, remember that this landscape is charged and energised by the dark, dreariness of the weather. Learn to associate grey with beauty, mystery, imagination, charm and unlearn the disappointed fear we all possess when a grey day rolls around. Grey-skied-days are a magical, in-between space between reality and fantasy. Embrace them.
Words & Images by Katy Who