Mythopoetic nephology has come a long way in the last few decades, in particular as it relates to the storage of clouds. As everyone knows, clouds are notoriously perishable, in particular the more volatile varieties such as thunderheads. Keeping them intact is a true art.
The composition of clouds is the chief clue to this difficulty. As every young meteorologist knows, clouds are composed of varying proportions of gossamer, ether, ectoplasm, and osmazome. The proportions are what determine the cloud type. For example, the standard cumulus is formed of 3% gossamer, 76% ether, 4% ectoplasm, and 19% osmazome, whereas the high-flown cirrus virtually reverses these proportions, with the exception of the gossamer content, which bears an inverse relationship. Careful study of the structure and composition of clouds means that modern cloud storage has advanced far beyond the traditional methods that homemakers have used for centuries.
This is the method that probably everyone remembers from their childhood, in the words of Robert Wrigley, “Clouds should be folded just like fitted sheets and stored in dark plastic bags in a deep freeze.” However, as your mother’s mother probably discovered, this doesn’t always hold true (and fitted sheets are a bitch to fold). Dark clouds, for example, should never be folded, as this permanently creases their silver lining. Dark clouds should always be stored flat or tethered.
Here are a few storage techniques that will help you to decide what storage method is appropriate for your clouds.
- Nimbuses will keep for years if pickled. Fan them out in the jar before pouring in the brine, and then store in a cool pantry.
- Cirrus clouds should be draped over the barn rafters to dry.
- Lenticulars should be held in saline solution, though in a pinch, for short-term storage, they may be held in one cup of an old brassiere.
- You may have been taught to stack Stratus clouds. This is no longer considered the best method. Cloud librarians now file them vertically in specially constructed drawers.
For hybrid clouds, combine methods as necessary.
In honour of Edward Lear’s 200th birthday, I offer three of his finest recipes. I have never managed to develop a taste for Amblongusses, but this is not for lack of ambition. Perhaps one needs to grow up on a steady diet of them in order to fully appreciate them. Comfort food they are not. And if any readers have had success clarifying crumbobblious sauce, please do let me know. Mine always ends up cantilevered.
To Make an Amblongus Pie
Take 4 pounds (say 4 1/2 pounds) of fresh Amblongusses, and put them in a small pipkin.
Cover them with water and boil them for 8 hours incessantly, after which add 2 pints of new milk, and proceed to boil for 4 hours more.
When you have ascertained that the Amblongusses are quite soft, take them out and place them in a wide pan, taking care to shake them well previously.
Grate some nutmeg over the surface, and cover them carefully with powdered gingerbread, curry-powder, and a sufficient quantity of Cayenne pepper.
Remove the pan into the next room, and place it on the floor. Bring it back again, and let it simmer for three-quarters of an hour. Shake the pan violently till all the Amblongusses have become a pale purple colour.
Then, having prepared a paste, insert the whole carefully, adding at the same time a small pigeon, 2 slices of beef, 4 cauliflowers, and any number of oysters.
Watch patiently till the crust begins to rise, and add a pinch of salt from time to time.
Serve up in a clean dish, and throw the whole out of the window as fast as possible.
To Make Crumbobblious Cutlets
Procure some strips of beef, and having cut them into the smallest possible slices, proceed to cut them still smaller, eight or perhaps nine times.
When the whole is thus minced, brush it up hastily with a new clothes-brush, and stir round rapidly and capriciously with a salt-spoon or a soup ladel.
Place the whole in a saucepan, and remove it to a sunny place, — say the roof of the house if free from sparrows or other birds, — and leave it there for about a week.
At the end of that time add a little lavender, some oil of almonds, and a few herring-bones; and cover the whole with 4 gallons of clarified crumbobblious sauce, when it will be ready for use.
Cut it into the shape of ordinary cutlets, and serve it up in a clean tablecloth or dinner-napkin.
To Make Gosky Patties
Take a pig, three or four years of age, and tie him by the off-hind leg to a post. Place 5 pounds of currants, 5 of sugar, 2 pecks of peas, 18 roast chestnuts, a candle, and six bushels of turnips, within his reach; if he eats these, constantly provide him with more.
Then, procure some cream, some slices of Cheshire cheese, four quinces of foolscap paper, and a packet of black pins. Work the whole into a paste, and spread it out to dry on a sheet of clean brown waterproof linen.
When the paste is perfectly dry, but not before, proceed to beat the Pig violently, with the handle of a large broom. If he squeals, beat him again.
Visit the paste and beat the pig alternately for some days, and ascertain that if at the end of that period the whole is about to turn into Gosky Patties.
If it does not then, it never will; and in that case the Pig may be let loose, and the whole process may be considered as finished.