Walking Clouds

In the arid Southwest, we are famous for our amazing vistas and our summertime virga – the rain that never falls. Virga makes for vivid sky formations: it is as if we are being teased with rain but never quite receive.


– Doug Pushard, The Santa Fe New Mexican

Mysterious and elegant, virga often appear like skybound octopi reaching tentacles down to snatch a cow off the mesa. When I first moved here from the east coast I called them Cloud Fingers only to discover some Native Americans refer to them as Walking Clouds. I was mesmerized by the wide open sky and how these cloud formations seemed to crawl just above the surface of the desert.

How they seem to yearn to reach down and quench the thirsty sagebrush and parched jackrabbits. Alas! The raindrops evaporate before reaching them.

This virga was so close and seemingly rooted into the ground I literally could have walked right through it. Which makes me wonder –  if a virga makes contact with the desert does it cease to be what it is and becomes something else? And how when we stretch our boundaries of Me-ness to include a stranger, the entire world takes a small step from isolation toward communion.

Sometimes I feel like a virga – as if my efforts evaporate before they bear fruit. If you feel this way while traversing a hot and lonely desert take comfort in knowing that seasons, like water, are always turning.

Never stop reaching and offering your gifts to the world.


Read more about our summertime virga here.


Photo Credits:  Walking Cloud, by Susan J. Preston, Santa Fe, NM © 2011, all rights reserved
Technical: iPhone 4