In Brooklin, Maine
Fog has provoked awe, daring, and flights of artistic imagination. Carl Sandburg famously imagined fog as something that quietly “comes on little cat feet.” He was inspired by fog that arises when moist, warmer air flows over cold water, technically called Advection Fog.
To be sure, we have feline fog around here. But, it’s hard to imagine a cat silently swallowing a 125-foot schooner as it leaves Great Cove under sail. We prefer to imagine this fog as the silver ghost of a huge octopus that raises its oblong head, stretches out its wispy arms, and swallows everything near it. Since we like fog, we also prefer to imagine this octopus as Disney-character-like. It just swallows, never chews, puffs up its cheeks and spits out all it consumes unharmed; it also sometimes does a Michael Jackson moon dance over an island. But it doesn’t sing; the silence of fog is one of its mystical qualities.
(Schooners often enter the fog under full sail, something their ancient ancestors would not have done unless there were an urgent need. The difference today, apparently, is that our windjammers have radar, sonar, and fog horns, and their captains usually post bow lookouts as well; perhaps just as important, our schooners have paying passengers who are thrilled to sail in fog.)
We get a slightly different fog on shore when the air temperature is below the dew point; this is so-called Radiation Fog. It comes sweeping up our north field, not on little feet, but on gossamer wings. The live and dying wild grasses gradually are shaded into pearly greens and sienna browns, glowing here and there with white sprinkles of Queen Anne’s Lace and yellow dabs of Tansy and Golden Rod. We can’t see much from a distance; but, if we walk down the field slowly and almost silently, we may get lucky and see animals that think they’re invisible in fog. We see a Wild Turkey with her poults and one of two resident young bucks.
Fog seems to love small islands. It paints and repaints these mini-universes with a muted palette, sometimes creating subtly beautiful shades that we’ve never seen. If we’re lucky – and today we are – the scene painted by fog is turned into a sublime work of functional art when a colorful lobster boat breaks through the mist and begins to work close to the island’s rocky shore.
Nearby, we see something that might appear surreal to people “from away,” as they say here: a kayak class getting instruction on a spit of beach as the fog starts to swallow them. The students soon paddle out into the mist.
During the winter months, when very cold air passes over warmer water, we can get Steam Fog, also known as Sea Smoke. Whereas other fogs may appear to the naked eye to be descending, Sea Smoke appears to be rising, often giving the incongruous impression of the sea being a sizzling frying pan on a day that could be well below freezing.
Words can’t adequately recreate the sight and feeling of being in a foggy field of grasses and wildflowers or at the edge of a lapping sea as the ghost visits. Although also inadequate, photographic images come closer to capturing the moment. If you’re interested, click the link below to take a 30-second virtual tour in the fog here. (As usual, we recommend that the initial screening be in full-frame, which can be achieved by clicking on the featured [largest] image on the gallery page to which the link will take you. Use your right and left keyboard arrows to proceed or go back; press Esc to return to the thumbnail gallery.) Here's the link:
Barbara and Dick