Clouds are generally very beautiful. We do not look at them enough. If we have to pay to see them, or if they could be seen only once a year, people might look at them and think them wonderful and beautiful. But when we see a thing always, we cease to see it. We say it is common, and take no more notice. But if we will watch the sky, we will see that all clouds are not the same there are different kinds of clouds: and we would see how beautiful they sometimes are. A still white cloud in a dark sky at night with the moonlight on it; white feathery fine clouds high up in a deep blue sky at noon, lit up by the sunlight; the bright red clouds at dawn in the east; the clouds of all colours, golden, crimson, red, orange, yellow, grey, that make the western sky ablaze of colour, at sunset; the dark black rain clouds that sweep up from the south on the monsoon wind-how beautiful and grand all these are!
The great use of clouds to us is that they give rain. Without rain, our world would be a dry and barren desert. There would be no rivers and streams, all plants would die too, for want of food.
What are clouds, and how do they give rain? We have noticed that when we go out on a very cold day, we can see our breath coming out of our mouth like mist or fog. The reason for this is that our breath is warm and at the same time it is full of moisture from our body. Warm air can hold a lot of water in the shape of vapour, though we cannot see it; but cold air cannot hold much. So when our warm breath comes out into the cold air, it is chilled, and as it cannot hold all the vapour anymore, some of it “condenses”, that is, turns back into tiny drops of water, which we can see as mist.
Now the sunshine warms the air, and the warm air over the sea sucks up water from the sea in the shape of unseen vapour. This warm air full of water-vapour is always rising; and when it gets to colder air high up in the sky, the vapour condenses into tiny drops, and these make the clouds, which we see. When these clouds come into still colder air, more vapour condenses, and the tiny drops run together and form big drops, and these fall by their weight to the earth as rain.