Friday, April 2, 2010

April 2: Fog Bank

As I drove from Camden to a meeting in Rockport, this morning seemed idyllic: warming air, birds singing, clear blue skies, that hopeful gleam of spring... But as I passed Hoboken Gardens on Route One, suddenly a giant cloud monster of a fog bank rose before me. The sun was working hard to dissipate it one strand at a time, but as I drove farther south, the light was blocked and fog surrounded me on all sides. Calling it a fog "bank" makes it sound like a solid object, but beyond its sheer bulk, this wall of cloud was moving eastward fast and loose, swirling strands of mist rising to dissipate in the sun's heat. It was as if the fog was trying to outrun the sunlight that was slowly but surely burning it away.

The old Carl Sandburg poem "Fog" came to mind:

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

But this fog colossus wasn't tiptoeing in on "little cat feet." More like something with big huge padded feet, like a cloud polar bear. Or maybe large birds, a dense flock of tundra swans, heavy and feathered...

Something that's nothing:
vapor erased by sunlight.
Misty metaphor.

Again I find myself inspired by the ephemeral, by something as insubstantial as fog. I remember my grandmother telling me that when she took flying lessons back in the 1930s (this was back in the days of open cockpit planes), she couldn't believe that when she stuck her hand out into the clouds, there was nothing there. Just as today, watching the mass of fog creep and twist its way up the coast, it was hard not to imagine it as alive in some way.

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