Wednesday, October 19, 2005


The fog comes
on big clown feet.
It parks its butt
over harbor and city
with Baggy Pants
and then burns off.

- apologies to Carl Sandburg

Last week, we awoke to a foggy morning here in the northern ’burbs of Atlanta. It’s that time of year when cool mornings combine with moist air, creating those ground-level clouds.

I like fog, as long as I don’t have to travel in it. There’s something peaceful about a dense fog, the way it blurs the vision and seems to muffle sound. A noted science fiction writer - Larry Niven, if I remember correctly - once speculated that fog was not always an atmospheric phenomenon, that it could be the result of different probability worlds intersecting. If you took a walk on a foggy night, you might come back to one of those other worlds. To a home in which nobody knew you, perhaps...or to a world in which creatures other than human populated the Earth. Eerie, that.

Fog can be damned scary, too. Ask any mariner.

We used to drive the Houston-Atlanta route fairly frequently. My in-laws used to live in Atlanta when we lived in Houston; in 1998, that situation was turned around, with us living in Atlanta and them in Houston (a long story, one involving The Great Corporate Salt Mine and probably worthy of its own post someday.) We discovered that the stretch on I-65 from Mobile to Montgomery, Alabama was notoriously vulnerable to fog after dusk in the winter months, so much so that we learned to stop overnight in Mobile rather than risk driving through miles of dense pea-soup.

And back in the late 1970’s, when I was working on a special project that had me driving from southwest Houston to Bayport, Texas to cover the graveyard shift, I had to deal with dark roads and fog that was so dense, you couldn’t see ten feet in front of you. I would make that drive with my heart in my mouth the whole way, hoping that a random 18-wheeler would not blunder upon me.

Fog impedes the vision, forces us to slow down. That’s not entirely a bad thing, is it?

[This post was inspired by the beautiful foggy photograph over at nina turns 40.]

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