Earth Clouds are the Best Clouds

Celebrating our home in the cosmos with Chad Ostrowski.

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A shirt that say Earth Clouds are the Best Clouds

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Someday soon...

your granddaughter will migrate to Mars.

She will pack her bags and leave
the only home any earth-creature has ever known,
and take up residence on a new sphere.

And like so many immigrants,
she will learn to find beauty in her new environment.
She will learn to find beauty in the indoor gardens;
the red cave walls;
the timing of Phobos and Deimos, her small new moons;
in tawny noon
and blue sunset.

Her people will create culture of the desert,
they will brew red ale
and sing songs rife with metaphors
of dust.

She will celebrate stars,
shining clear through thin atmosphere,
just outside the habitat,
with no clouds to ever obstruct.

She will find the parts of herself that resonate
with her new surroundings.
She will mold, from a strange and alien landscape,
a home.

Someday soon,

her grandson will migrate to Venus.
To the thick clouds above Venus,
and live in floating cities.

He will forget life on the surface,
because his is a surface that will
crush like an ocean;
char like a furnace;
dissolve with eternal
sulfuric acid rain.

His people tell stories of falling,
and dream nightmares of flame.

They praise the high winds;
learn to live in sauna;
and with always the yellow—
those clouds far below.

Someday soon,

his grandchildren will migrate to Titan,
that dazzling satellite of Saturn.
But they will not see the rings.

Their eyes will adjust to dim orange light,
and they will sail on black methane lakes;
set up mills on black methane rivers.

will be a popular pastime on Titan,
because air is thick,
and gravity thin,
and humans can learn to fly by our own arm strength,
like Icarus,
but with no threat of heat.

And always they will see orange.

From above, Titan looks featureless,
a glowing orb of unrelenting cloud cover.

They will learn to find home in that
dim orange haze;
in that absence of stars.

The star nearest ours is Alpha Centauri,
with two co-orbiting suns
(and a third, far away)

And every eight decades
they orbit each other,
Yes! They dance to the rhythm
of one human life.

And if there's a planet,
around one or the other,
then in their night sky,
they'd see—the other star!—a bright moon.
It would light up the darkscape,
but switch with the seasons —
when you're a child in—autumn, say—
when a young adult, winter;
when middle-aged—spring.

And you'd count your life
by when it illumines;
when midsummer glow evenings,
you'd be reaching old age.
And you'd hope to make it
to the seasonal moonlight
that you can remember from
when you were young.
And you'd denounce fiercely
the next generation
who think winter needs moonlight
more than the fall!

Wherever they go—
your adaptive descendants—
they'll find the beauty;
they'll make a home.

But they'll always tell stories
of the planet that spawned them—
the cool summer starlight,
the warm winter snow.

Waterfalls, puddles, and rain you can drink!
Oceans that stretch out beyond the horizon!

From out there we'll all seem
so similar and small,
all our difference rendered same
by the distance of the vantage.

And how vulnerable and precious
our whole majestic planet!
Just a dot among the stars!
Or less, depending on the season!

They'll get videos,
after great time-delay,
from loved ones back on Earth,

and those clouds,
Earth's shocking clouds,
will always startle them.