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Stories in the Clouds

In a previous century, we indulged in two forms of entertainment on long road trips. Naming state and country capitals and finding shapes in clouds. "Japand" (Japan) and "Indiant" (one from India) are permanent additions to our vocabulary, thanks to our restless little cub. Later our teen boys spent large chunks of their time (they did not have) on a site called sporcle, associating countries with their political center.

We lost touch with cloud-watching until today's road trip to Chicago. Having Josh in the car took us back rapidly to this favorite childhood activity.

Eleven hours in the car with mother repeatedly asking where we were headed made the need for entertainment even more acute than you can imagine. With Josh at the wheel and Tarun helping, we chronicled the stories in the clouds as they spoke to us in a lost language. Like old times, we spun tales out of what we saw. We imagined. We laughed. And we pretended to be young(er) again.

The Goodyear blimp made an appearance.

The little duckling swam upstream chanting, “I think I can, I think I can!”

There was Hershey, ear flipped up, chasing deer.

And the hippo yawned at the rhino on a super hot day.

At least 50 miles went by as we stared into the clouds. On a short trip that would be a thrill. On a long one, 50 was a mere sigh. Still, we had a great time. I thought of a squeaky 6-yr old voice calling out cumulonimbus, cirrus, and stratus clouds. Our older one seemed to recognize them faster than I could figure out what he was pointing at. As night fell on our long drives, we would switch from clouds to the moon and then the younger squeaky voice would call out gibbous, full, and half "moom".

To commemorate the hours spent on the road with our boys, we've inducted imaginary clouds to our hall of names. We call them cirrocumulonimbus and stratonimbocirrus. Together with stegosaurus and pterodactyls, they once ruled the world.

As the miles ticked along today, I imagined Tarun and I were sea horses escaping through a portal into the past, back to huddling with our little kids and talking about this and that.

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