A book of natural phenomenaBorin Van Loon: Taiga 1

An Instant Guide To The Weather

Gramercy Books. Republished (USA) 2000 (ISBN 0-517-20833-4)
Weather: Pocket reference guides. Brockhampton Press. Republished (UK) 1998 (ISBN 1-86019-779-5)

This is an ideal compact identification guide to a subject which preoccupies and affects us all. From sunshine to snow, hurricanes to holes in the ozone layer, freak conditions to daily forecasting, this user friendly guide covers the atmosphere, weather sytems, clouds, winds, climate and other features of the weather in easy to understand terms. Detailed full colour illustrations with informative text and diagrams make it simple to recogize different types of weather and to understand their causes.

A death and a birth in my family (my wife's grandmother and my daughter respectively) puctuated work on this book. However, it was a joy to create a whole gallery of small oil paintings on this most elusive of subjects. We moan about the changes in weather in Britain and - usually unjustifiably - about poor forecasting, however we really love all these activities. In a climate where every day is usually different, this preoccupation must be baffling to those where the weather is 'always the same' and almost 100% predictable! It does now seem that the Earth is moving into a new era of turbulent weather, often to disastrous effect. As heating of the atmosphere, changes in warming currents such as the Gulf Stream and melting of the ice caps take effect across the planet, we see increases in hurricanes, tsunami and other extreme phenomena. My agent, Judith Schecter, and I tried to mount an exhibition of these paintings in the foyer of the National Theatre, so that the UK edition of the book could be sold as an exhibition catalogue. However, the publishers/sponsors were rather reticent about getting involved in this sure-fire winner during a rather dodgy spell in the British economy. An opportunity lost, I've always thought.

Borin Van Loon: Downpour1. Borin Van Loon: Sea fog2.

Borin Van Loon: Blizzard3.Borin Van Loon: Cumulus congestus4.
1. Downpour; 2. Sea Fog; 3. Blizzard; 4. Cumulus Congestus cloud
Below: something of the night ...

Borin Van Loon: Night weather
A large-scale version of the Steam fog study from this book can be found in the Paintings gallery.

Reviews section

Chock full of info. May 7, 2005
Reviewer: "traderje" (Through the Window)
I was a little unsure of the book because the description says it has illustrations instead of photographs, but these illustrations far exceeded my expectations. Because they are so good, they probably convey the information better than a photo because the conditions for the clouds can be exact. When it comes to the cloud section, you might not even notice that they are drawings at first. (FIVE STARS)
There is a lot of good information in this little book. It is divided into several sections: atmosphere, weather systems, clouds, precipitation, winds, optical and atmospheric phenomena, climate, and forecasting. When you look at the price, and if it is a topic you are interested, it is hard not to be please with it's purchase. It even has detailed information and a drawing of something called a Brockenspecter. I mean really, what more could you ask for from a little book under five dollars! (FIVE STARS)

Why I Am Not A Good Kisser
(bold text not author's own)

Because I open my mouth too wide
Trying to take in the curtains behind us
And everything outside the window
Except the little black dog
Who does not like me
So at the last moment I shut my mouth.

Because Cipriano de Rore was not thinking
When he wrote his sacred and secular motets
Or there would be only one kind
And this affects my lips in terrible ways.

Because at the last minute I see a lemon
Sitting on a gravestone and that is a thing, a thing
That would appear impossible, and the kiss
Is already concluded in its entirety.

Because I learned everything about the beautiful
In a guide to the weather by Borin Van Loon, so
The nature of lenticular clouds and anticyclones
And several other things dovetail in my mind
& at once it strikes me what quality goes to form
A Good Kisser, especially at this moment, & which you
Possess so enormously--I mean when a man is capable
Of being in uncertainties, Mysteries & doubts without me
I am dreadfully afraid he will slip away
While my kiss is trying to think what to do.

Because I think you will try and read what is written
On my tongue and this causes me to interrupt with questions:
A red frock? Red stockings? And the rooster dead? Dead of what?

Because of that other woman inside me who knows
How the red skirt and red stockings came into my mouth
But persists with the annoying questions
Leading to her genuine ignorance.

Because just when our teeth are ready to hide
I become a quisling and forget the election results
And industrial secrets leading to the manufacture
Of woolen ice cream cones, changing the futures
Of ice worms everywhere.

Can it be that even the greatest Kisser ever arrived
At his goal without putting aside numerous objections--

Because every kiss is like throwing a pair of doll eyes
Into the air and trying to follow them with your own--

However it may be, O for a life of Kisses
Instead of painting volcanoes!

Even if my kiss is like a paintbrush made from hairs.
Even if my kiss is squawroot, which is a scaly herb
Of the broomrape family parasitic on oaks.
Even if a sailor went to sea in me
To see what he could see in me
And all that he could see in me
Was the bottom of the deep dark sea in me.
Even though I know nothing can be gained by running
Screaming into the night, into the night like a mouth,
Into the mouth like a velvet movie theatre
With planets painted on its ceiling
Where you will find me, your pod mate,
In some kind of beautiful trouble
Over moccasin stitch #3,
Which is required for my release.

Mary Ruefle: 'Why I Am Not A Good Kisser'. American Poetry Review, July/Aug 2002 Vol.31/No.4
Mary Ruefle is the author of six books of poetry, the most recent of which is 'Among the Musk Ox People' (Carnegie Mellon, 2002; ISBN 0-88748-376-4). She lives in Massachusetts. See our Links page to obtain her books.

+++Anticyclone illustration from 'Weather' appears on the Dust Bowl site:

The Instant Guide to Weather is one of the best beginning guides for amateur meteorologists. It can also come in handy for advanced weather watchers. Since cumulonimbus clouds are some of the most fascinating clouds to watch, an illustration of this cloud is included on the cover of the jacket. Now for the pinpoint details: The guide is quite concise and easy to use, especially for the beginning weather watcher. The pictures are beautiful, particularly the cumulus congestus and cumulonimbus ones. The authors should have drawn more pics of cumulus clouds. I feel must deduct one star for this detail, since the Audubon Guide has seven or more pictures of cumulus and cumulonimbus. However, this won't matter to one who has never seen the unabridged Audubon Field Guide. Don't bother wasting your money on this if you already own the full fledged Peterson, Audubon, or Simon and Schuster's guides to weather. It will make this Instant Guide look mediocre. Otherwise, purchase this to get started on your exciting weather trip! It will prove useful. [4 star review] (http://www.fetchbook.info)

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