Monday, January 7, 2013

A Winter Fog

 It is 18° as I walk to the mailbox with a letter. The temperature is cold but not particularly brutal for a January morning. Yet it is one that causes my footsteps to crunch as I head towards Clayton Road. I look across the field to our east as I walk and I see the old Shell farm, half a mile distant, enshrouded in fog. What makes it interesting, though, is that the fog has lifted off the ground, hangs about ten feet up and the first floor of the farmhouse is in the clear. The fog is stratified, spread out in long, thin layers of white, like a bridal veil lifted into the air and shook in a north-south direction.

 It is a magical time, crisp and quiet and without the hint of moving air. The icy fog confirms that.

 I am here to walk, the first time in weeks. Sam's lane has been under the snow and then, when spots seemed to melt, the tracks where I might step had been pressed down by passing trucks into a hard, unnatural ice. There was nowhere to step. But in the past day or two, the afternoon temperature has flirted with the freezing mark, has topped it a few times, and the darker spots in the lane have conspired to give me my walking path back.
 Even so, it is again a cold morning and the walk is crunchy and loud. The corn stubble stands erect and stiff in the early morning light, like soldiers snapped to attention. Mom looked at this photo and was reminded of penguins, standing stiffly on the Antarctic ice, awaiting the sun.
 In the distance, the fog surrounds me, not yet driven away by the sun. It is layered in every direction I turn. Sam's farmhouse sits below a particularly thick sheet of white, his furnace belching steam.

 As I near my turn-around spot, the sun is beginning to shine. The corn casts shadows; the snow itself gives shadows. Blue and pink mix as the day begins.

 Though it will be some hours before the ice begins to melt again, it seems suddenly warmer - if not merely more cheerful - with the sun's golden light. There is hope that the day will moderate, that the sun will give me more spots to step tomorrow. I am not cold, though, but for my feet. The canvas shoes I'm wearing are designed for spring and their out-of-season thinness does not stop the cold.

 At the end of the lane - for I always walk two laps - the maple that stands at the southeast edge of our property seems another soldier bearing the night's cold. It will not have long to wait before this night is ended.

 A woodlot on Venus Road always delays our day in the winter. I look at the published sunrise time and must add a few minutes for the sun to clear these trees. The fog delays this day yet the more.
 But when I end my walk, the sun is bright, the fog has melted away and the day has begun. The weathermen predicts much warmer weather by week's end. 60's? The rest of the blizzard's snow will melt, the weight on the kitchen roof will wash away in the showers and the brown ground will darken the moonless night.
 Who would live anywhere but where the seasons rule? What is the advantage of comfort if it is hidden in boredom? Give me days that swing wildly, seasons that know what they are. Variety is all I ask for.

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