When we think of fog it is usually in a somewhat negative connotation. It can be a physical issue when you can't think clearly: "Sorry, I am in such a fog.," or the horror aspect represented in movies like The Fog or Jack the Ripper. Rock stars use fog machines to create a cool effects onstage, building excitement before they drift in mysteriously and then shocking the senses with pyrotechnics and sound.
Fog creates an air of mystery. After all, the fog takes a perfectly beautiful day and dulls everything down. It takes a view that would normally go for miles and sometimes makes it mere feet and to some, that is disconcerting. Our vision is limited when it is foggy and we wonder what lurks behind a tree or building as we walk by. But, fog also muffles our hearing because of the many water droplets now blocking sound waves. Fog generally mutes shadows and diffuses the colors and edges of everything we see.
But, I love the fog. To me, the fog creates a parallel universe. One we don't see that often. Because our sight is limited, there is a slight mystery to what is up ahead. And when you get there, it looks so dramatically different then it would in normal daylight - it is almost dreamlike. Something as simple as a leaf on a tree now glistens with a tiny amount of water around the edges. Droplets of water on a small spider web resemble beads on a string and the the bright red of a male Cardinal stands out against the pale surroundings like a cherry on top of a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
Everything seems to be opposite when there is a fog. Like a universe turned upside down. When walking in a forest you get wet under the trees and at times it seems as though it is raining. This happens when the millions of water droplets suspended in the air, attach to the leaves of trees. As they form larger and larger droplets, the weight eventually becomes too much and one by one they fall to the earth, colliding with other leaves on the way down and in turn, creating what seems like a shower under the trees.
Birds and mammals take less notice of you in the fog too. Maybe they can't see as well either and because everything is muted, they are less likely to see us. Whatever the case, it is wonderful to watch a yellow-bellied sapsucker inching away up a tree nearby. Searching for breakfast in the form of a beetle or grub in decaying wood of an old Sycamore tree.
As a boy, I remember going to Port Washington, Wisconsin along Lake Michigan to fish for Lake Trout with my father. We'd carefully walk out onto the large rocks which formed the breakwater and take our place on a jetty of manmade iron and large concrete blocks. This was very exciting because catching one of these Lake Trout or Cohos as they were called, would mean a big fight and a big fish we'd enjoy later after it had been smoked and served with crackers and cheese. We'd usually start fishing before sunrise, fumbling our way along the uneven rocks and trying carefully not to fall into the frigid lake. After the sun had started to rise, invariably, the fog would set in. It would envelop us and make me feel as though I was alone on an island even though we were only yards from shore. It made the fishing even more exciting, because now your world consisted of about 3 feet on all sides and that was it. You'd cast the cold, blue and silver spoon out into the thick abyss, listening for it to hit the water and then relying on feel to tell you when a fish was pulling on your line. Those were good days in the fog.
As I mentioned earlier, the fog is like a parallel universe. It is like taking a walk in the country during a full moon night. You can see much of your surroundings, but things look so very different. It means you stray from the ordinary, you rely on your senses of hearing, smell and touch much more and less on your vision. It gives your eyes a break.
So, recently, just a few days after New Years, I went for a hike along the Augusta Canal on a particularly foggy morning. At first there were only a few people out on what seemed to be a dreary day, but within an hour I saw runners, photographers and families out enjoying the unordinary world fog creates