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Foggy Night

The fog was thick enough that billboards seemed to appear out of it as brightly lit screens only to evaporate again after we’d moved onward through the whiteness. Kiki and I kept exclaiming at the visual effects of the fog, much to Howard’s annoyance because he was driving and for a split second those exclamations seemed to be cries of alarm. “Stop doing that.” he told us firmly. So I bit my tongue and watched the world turned strange and magical by the miracle of water vapor in the air.

Fog is not a common occurrence in Utah, but then neither is the freezing rain we had yesterday morning that coated every surface with ice so that college students were skating their way to class and the emergency rooms were full of accident victims. “Please just stay home. The ER is full.” tweeted a nurse. The police department made a similar plea asking people to please, please slow down. All that icy rain landed on top of a thick layer of snow which has lingered for weeks with no chance to melt. Then today the world thawed. Snow turned to slush. Ice turned to water. But the ground was too frozen to absorb it and all of the drainage routes were blocked by slush. The water pooled and evaporated filling the air with moisture. With nightfall it became fog.

I grew up in the California Bay Area. We got fog so thick you couldn’t see across the street. Fog always makes me think of San Francisco and the Altamont Pass with all of it’s windmills turned ghostly by fog. I remember sitting in the back seat while my dad tried to navigate home through a fog which only revealed a few feet in front of our van. All of us kids watched the road as hard as Dad did, as if the extra eyes could make more things clear. I stretched high in my seat to see, at the very limit of my seatbelt. searching as hard as I could to keep track of those white dotted lines which indicated that we were still on the road. Signs ghosted by us and we read those too, watching for our exit. It was a long time in coming, that exit.

Sometimes in my life I can see far ahead and I trundle along happily confident in my trip. Other times life is foggy. Lately some things are foggy while others are clear. It is a sort of swirling mist which obscures and clears at random. When things are clear I pick a path, when they are not, I keep going on that path until I find enough clarity to pick again. I wish life fog felt as mysterious and beautiful as weather fog.

We arrived home safely and retreated indoors, only occasionally peering out at the fog from behind glass. The air dropped below freezing, we’ll have frost sculptures for trees in the morning. I’ll have to remember to take my camera out and capture them. Soon the fog will be gone.

1 comment to Foggy Night

  • Austin Shackles

    One thing I love driving along in fog, especially in daytime, is it’s like watching a photograph develop. You get this grey-white nothing, then a vague shadow in it gradually resolves into a tree (or something else) which gains detail as you get nearer.

    Too thick fog is nasty when driving, though – it’s enormously more stressful than driving in clear visibility, so I can quite understand Howard’s reaction 🙂 I once did about 100 miles in a fog such as you describe, peering into a blank wall in the dark about 2 car-lengths ahead. The feeling on reaching the edge of the fog and suddenly driving into clear air was amazing.