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Saturday, August 11, 2012
A Room in the Fog
A Room in the Fog
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Clouds of fog drifted past as we entered the campground, wisps of fog dangled and danced around us as we erected our tents. Droplets hung on our hair and condensed on the tents. Our clothes dampened and clung.
Darkness crept around us; it was late after the long drive. I studied the map. We wanted to stretch our legs and set off through fog to walk to the beach on dark unfamiliar trails. I knew the trail ran down to the beach, but not how it twisted, turned, rose and fell through dark cedars and irregular dunes. I didn’t know if there might be side trails.
We didn’t turn on a flashlight. Instead, we walked slowly, felt the trail with our feet, allowed our eyes to adapt to the dark. It’s easy to get lost in the woods in the dark, easy to get lost on the fog, easy to get turned around, wander in circles. The trail went through black cedars, up, down, left, right. Soon, however, we could hear and smell the water, at first a quiet roar.
Then we heard the clear sound of waves falling onto the sand and the soft swish as they retreated back. Thicker fog rolled up the dark beach from the water. The water’s edge was dimly visible as a darker shade of black. At the edge, we paused and breathed.
We searched around in the dark, collected driftwood and built a cairn to mark the spot so we would know where to turn back to camp when we returned. Then, we walked down the beach. The fog opened in front of us, closed behind us and formed a “room” around us. Oddly, we could see a few stars above, so the fog wasn’t deep.
Also, strangely, the fog seemed to glow with a faint luminosity. It seemed brighter than the night. I wondered if there was a moon, or if the stars alone lit the fog. No man-made lights shone nearby.
Driftwood, sometimes whole logs, and dead fish (recognized by their smell) entered our room at the front, passed through and retreated out the back. Piles of crunchy mussel shells slid under our feet and away. The fog smelled faintly of the bay, of fish, seaweed and fecundity.
We walked on and on, barely seeing, barely hearing, barely smelling, barely feeling. Gradually, I became frightened. It seemed like a nightmare, as if I’d been walking forever in darkness. When I spoke my fear, warm voices reassured me. Hands appeared in mine. Comfort.
I realized we are all on a journey; we are never safe. We can’t see very far ahead, can’t even really see much around us. But we have this room in the fog, this moment. We have companions and an opportunity for love.
We took the room with us, back down the beach to the cairn, up through the dunes to the tents, and then, we had a room within a room. We crawled into our bags, and cocooned by layers of down, tent, fog, sky and stars, we slept, two of us twined around each other. Our son slept too, close by.
For Keith, Graham and Heidi (At the Pinery)
1)This is a "true story" and I originally wrote about it in my journal in late May 2006, right after it happened. I edited the piece somewhat to shorten it.
2)The image is a photoshopped "photo-art" piece. I took some time exposures of the dunes in fog at night, but I can't find them. I have too many pictures!