19 January 1856

by layman k

As I came home through the village at 8.15 p.m., by a bright moonlight, the moon nearly full and not more than 18° from the zenith, the wind northwest, but not strong, and the air pretty cold, I saw the melon-rind arrangement of the clouds on a larger scale and more distinct than ever before. There were eight or ten courses of clouds, so broad that with equal intervals of blue sky they occupied the whole width of the heavens, broad white cirro-stratus in perfectly regular curves from west to east across the whole sky. The four middle ones, occupying the greater part of the visible cope, were particularly distinct. They were all as regularly arranged as the lines on a melon, and with much straighter sides, as if cut with a knife. I hear that it attracted the attention of those who were abroad at 7 p.m. and now, at 9 p.m., it is scarcely less remarkable. On one side of the heavens, north or south, the intervals of blue look almost black by contrast. There is now, at nine, a strong wind from the northwest. Why do these bars extend east and west? Is it  the influence of the sun, which set so long ago? or of the rotation of the earth? The bars which I notice so often, morning and evening, are apparently connected with the sun at those periods.

– from the journals of Henry David Thoreau