One of the reasons, out of many, that I like to spend mornings on the river, is that when the sunrise gives way to dawn and the sun crests the tree tops and beams hit the surface of the water, the river begins to rise in wisps. The view is simultaneously eerie and insulating, as the already distant nature of being alone on the river suddenly becomes that much more still as the river coats itself in fog.
When you’re out there, the fog always seems out of reach, elusively beyond the bow of the boat or the reach of either oar or paddle.
This is, of course, a sort of reverse illusion.
The fog doesn’t escape, doesn’t hide, as you paddle through where it once was. It’s merely too close to see.
Fog requires distance, or rather volume, to become visible.
Out in the country, at least around my farm, we have two foggy seasons per year: one when the days are getting longer and hotter, and the other when the days are getting shorter and colder.
The coming of the fog announces, through quiet, dense clouds, that these seasonal changes are picking up in earnest. And that either sun or darkness is about to get much more prominent in daily life.
The seasonal fog is thick, much more so than river wisps. And from the porch or inside, the distance gives it volume such that all life farther than 75 feet away is effectively blocked, turning neighbor’s farms into dark suggestions of houses and obscuring the horses that are surely out there. This, of course, makes driving dangerous, if not impossible, for a few hours a day. But that gray blanket allows for reflection in a solitude even deeper than farmlife normally affords. At least until the sun rises fully and the air warms to the point where the fog melts into the greater atmosphere.
As the fog marks a change in light and heat, it also marks a change in activity. Of endings and beginnings.
Gone, for now, are the mornings on the river. Returned are long rows indoors.
Convertible season has concluded, but driving with audiobooks are back.
Days out in the field and garden are over, but days with a book by the fireplace are returned.
The fog doesn’t cause any of this. But it does, did, provide a nice pause. A signifier that change is here.
I’ve already gone through prepping the farm for winter. I’ve changed filters - both air and water. I’ve swapped out my thin summer coverlet for a thick down comforter. The mud room has winter jackets. The hammock has been taken down. And the garden is tarped over, prepping the soil for the spring.
There’s a phrase I stumbled upon a few months back that I’ve been turning over in my head so much so that I can no longer remember where I found it. “Not opposites, by symmetry.” The fog is a declaration that things are shifting, and that life is adopting the symmetrical role.