“Daddy”, six-year old Clara said as she looked up at the leaden-grey sky, “what are clouds?”
I thought what to say while Clara resumed splashing in her puddles. The drizzle hadn’t dampened her enthusiasm. Should I tell the truth or the fantasy? For a six-year old with a crush on unicorns with rainbow manes, the fantasy might be a little dull.
“Well?” she said, as she landed in a puddle a little deeper than the rest, sending a splash of water all around her.
“You’ve seen the steam from the kettle,” I said, ”when I make a cup of tea?”
“Or hot chocolate. I like hot chocolate,” she interrupted.
“Yes, or hot chocolate. Well, some say that clouds are mists of water drops just like the steam from our kettle.”
Clara jumped to the next puddle along the lane.
“Is that where rain comes from,” …and the next puddle… “ – the water drops in the clouds?” … and another puddle.
“Yes, that’s right,” I said. She stopped, and once more looked thoughtfully up to the sky.
“But that’s silly,” she said. “We get white clouds that don’t rain, and grey clouds that don’t rain, and those really thin see-through clouds high up, and they don’t rain. You tell me not to tell silly stories and not to lie,” she looked back at me. “Now tell me, what are clouds?”
Young Clara wasn’t to be fooled.
“Well, some say that clouds are mists of water drops,” I said, bringing a frown to Clara’s brow. “But others say that clouds are all the unhappy thoughts that have drifted up from the people below.”
Clara’s frown relaxed away.
“And, when it’s cloudy like today, having so many unhappy thoughts just above our heads, can make us unhappy too,” I continued.
“So is that why people are happy on a bright sunny day?” she said.
Clara bent over and studied a small stream of rainwater that meandered across the path by her feet.
“Well, rain clouds don’t make me unhappy,” she said. “I can jump in puddles. I can watch little rivers of rainwater explore their way across the path. I can listen to the music of the rain as it pitter patters on the leaves and ground. I’m happy in the sunshine and I’m happy in the rain.”
Clara jumped in a puddle again, and squealed with delight as she discovered it was the deepest yet.
“See Daddy, isn’t it always better to tell me the truth?”
I smiled and looked up to the leaden-grey sky – searching. It took a moment or two to see, but yes, there it was. A tiny spot where the cloud had thinned to show just a hint of pure blue beyond. Happy thoughts.