Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What Hild saw

photo: BBC (couldn't find a credit for the photographer)

This photo was taken late last week in West Yorkshire--which in Hild's day (early seventh century), was the kingdom of Elmet (see nifty map). I'm trying to imagine Hild sitting outside on a bright twelve-days-of-Yule morning and watching those glide over the horizon. What would she have made of them? To me it looks like meringues carved by a god. (Big meringues, carved by a major god: those are wind turbines: easily over 100' tall.) But in Hild's time and place there was no meringue because there was no sugar.

So...carved driftwood? Whipped cream from a celestial cow? (I've no idea if the Anglo-Saxons whipped cream--it seems unlikely but, hey, so do those clouds.)

Technically speaking these are lenticular clouds:

Where stable moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains, a series of large-scale standing waves may form on the downwind side. If the temperature at the crest of the wave drops to the dew point, moisture in the air may condense to form lenticular clouds.

There aren't any mountains in Elmet/Leeds, though, so this is a rare sight. In Hild's day, a gift from the gods. I like to think she would have been pleased with the present.

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