Literary Fog

The view extended no farther than the neighbour's irrigator.

The view extended no farther than the neighbour’s irrigator.

“The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so dense without, that although the court was of the narrowest, the houses opposite were mere phantoms. To see the dingy cloud come drooping down, obscuring everything, one might have thought that Nature lived hard by, and was brewing on a large scale.”
–Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

This is one of my favourite quotes about fog. It’s actually quite a bit longer than this (Dickens certainly couldn’t dispense with such an atmosphere in just two sentences.)—I’ve just transcribed the second half of it here.

Today put me in mind of this quote. We were in the grip of a chilly sea fog most of the day. Heavy, wet and cold. I’m sure that a mere kilometre away, it was a warm and sunny day—that was the forecast, at least. But this close to the sea, our weather sometimes defies the land-based predictions.

I worked in hat and fingerless gloves most of the day, even indoors. When I went outdoors to care for the animals or get the mail, the trees dripped sullenly, and I came back in with my hair frosted with water droplets.

For about an hour—between 11 am and noon—the fog retreated. The sun shone warm on paddocks sparkling with water. I threw open the windows and took off my hat and gloves.

But soon the dull grey blanket came rolling back. I saw it coming, while the sun still shone, and closed the windows. And then we were plunged into the chill darkness again.

I would have liked the sun today—my laundry, hung on the line in the morning, ended up being thrown into the dryer in the afternoon, wetter than it had started. But there is something so delicious and…Dickens…about fog, that I can’t resist spending time out in it. There is mystery in fog. There is introspection and contemplation. Who knows, but the Hound of the Baskervilles could be out in that fog. Fog is literary. Fog is visceral, tangible like a sunny day can never be.

I do hope we see the sun tomorrow, but if it is fog, well, I’ll sharpen my pencil and keep an eye out for strange door knockers and large black dogs.

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