The fog comes
on little cat feet. - Carl Sandburg (1878 – 1967), Chicago Poems (1916) “Fog”
It was foggy the other morning when I drove into work. It was as if the clouds ran into the mountains and got stuck in our valley. I remember as a child flying to Billings, Montana to see my grandma and grandpa. When we got into the clouds, I was so disappointed that they just looked like so much fog that fills our city almost every winter. Instead of the fluffy and soft pillows, they were just mist.
They call it an inversion. We get them almost every winter here in Salt Lake. Unlike many people, I like it when it comes. I’m not claustrophobic, so the enclosing mist that clouds the vision of drivers feels like a hug to me. It makes everything smaller. Instead of being able to glance out my window and see my beloved mountains, I have to strain. I have to look through the fog to see a glimpse of them. Sometimes they are totally invisible behind the clouds that are stuck in our valley.
Even though I live with fog every winter, I don’t think of it as a feature of Salt Lake City. Fog is for romantic cities like San Francisco and London. I can’t even imagine the mysteries that can be hidden in the fog could possibly hide in our fog. Our fog is bright, even though it obscures the sun so much that you can barely see the yellow disk peeking out from behind it. Sometimes a foggy day can feel more bright than a cloudy day. How could evil lurk behind our fog when it is so bright?
Our fog is very dry. It’s not the kind of fog that sticks to your skin and clothing like it does in San Francisco. No, this is the fog of a desert winter. Our fog is not really a mist. It’s more like scentless smoke. I guess I’m meteorologically challenged. I don’t know how it can be so dry and foggy at the same time, yet I experience it every year. Dry fog isn’t nearly as picturesque as the kind of fog that makes the hero shine with tiny droplets. This stuff is more like the junk that comes out of a fog machine without the stink.
Maybe a visitor would think our fog was romantic. Maybe it’s just that I see it every year that it seems like there is no danger lurking there for me. I remember roller skating to school in the cold, dry fog. There was no danger in my mind. There was just fast skating with the cold wind on my face. The worst that I could imagine was a stray rock that may have escaped from the RV parking of a neighbor’s house. Maybe if this was a new town to me, this fog would feel dangerous. How could it be dangerous when I roller skated through it so quickly?