We have been driving through days filled by clouds. Soon after we left home, we reached the margin of the plateau above the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers. The valley of the rivers was filled with clouds, and the midday sun above them suffused the gauzy cloud body with yellow. A hard yellow shine reflected from the upper arcs of some cloud billows. The mill in the valley pumped smoke into the cloud. The smoke seemed almost the source of the cloud mass, which was most dense and dark around the mill. The smoke billows had brown shadows, and their sunlight was sulfurous.
We drove through mountains where the clouds lay like seas that spread across the sky to cover all or the peaks and ridgetops. Among other mountains. the clouds meandered like rivers along the bases of ridges.
Clouds hung on meadows and stood on willow tips above wetlands. Old barns sagged it seemed under the mass of cloud.
We drove in and out of fog, slowing as needed or speeding up as allowed by cloud.
It was nearly the end of our second day of driving before we saw the unobscured tops of mountains. These were the round-topped peaks of the Black Pine Mountains, which stood on an ochre- and winter green-colored plain amid other nearby clouded ranges. Their peaks and sinous side ridges caught an orangish-yellow light of the late day that edged through a pass of blue sky between broad, charcoalish clouds.
Low clouds slept at the foot of the Black Pine Mountains, where the landscape rose between ranges. We drove toward that rise of land, and soon we were in cloud. Mist gathered on the windshield and our wipers, set to sweep periodically, made a squeaky scrape as they wiped away the drops of clouds.