Sunday, December 28, 2008

Winter Fog

Wild Plants and Wooly Bears

Fog hangs low over the snow, corrupting and shrinking it in a way that nothing else can. Winter fog, cool but not cold, tiny water droplets suspended in the air, envelopes fields and woods like a great, gray blanket.

Winter fog differs significantly from summer fog. Fog now is all or nothing, no patches here and there, no clear spots. Warm air and cold snow combine to make winter fog. In summer, different conditions conspire and the nature of fog differs greatly. Summer fog is locally predictable. The bottom of Belmont Hill becomes foggy nearly each evening in summer. Likewise a certain stretch of U.S. Route 1 in Frankfort. In winter, it is foggy everywhere or it is foggy nowhere.

It seems to me that winter fog has increased capacity to hold and disperse scents. Woodsmoke from idling stoves remains detectable for a great distance from its source. Exhaust from cars and trucks hangs near tailpipes, choking those who would enjoy a tailgate visit with their friends or neighbors. Rich aromas from barns, scents of farm animals and the salt tang of the sea coalesce and spur imaginations to great heights.

Winter fog kindles memories and lulls restless spirits. Winter fog embraces and asks to be embraced. If winter fog were music, it would fall in a minor key.

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