The Many Faces of Fog

Morning FogWhat a spectacular month October has been! Our unusually warm summer lingered on and on and gradually moved into Indian Summer. The occasional showers, plus cool nights followed by warm days, brought us frequent foggy mornings. And each morning the fog had a different quality to it.

Fog has many faces. There are the wispy ground mists, rising up like wraiths when the sun starts warming the cold surface. Dutch legend refers to this as ‘witte wieven,’ female spirits or elves, who may be beneficial, but may also be malicious when crossed. I often see these mist wraiths in the Biesbosch, when the water warms to the sun.

There is the thick, impenetrable fog that even muffles sound. The sun hasn’t enough power to shine through it and it often doesn’t burn off until past midday. The world is a white-grey cloudy screen. I walked out in such a fog one morning. I could hear nearby geese taking off and flying overhead but couldn’t see them. This fog is cold and damp. One can get very lost in a fog like this.

Then there is the soft, opalescent fog, bright with the light of the early sun. It often blankets the ground and vanishes one or two meters higher up. Tops of trees and roofs of farmhouses appear to be floating. Silhouettes of animals and birds are vaguely discernible. This is a fog that imbues everything with a soft magical glow.

And, finally, there is haze: a general sense of not seeing things clearly. The farther away an object is, the less discernable it is. Light is pleasantly diffused, which makes for great photographic conditions. The moisture in the air deepens colors and makes them more vibrant.

Each of these ‘faces’ of fog carries its own metaphor. My life has been touched by ‘witte wieven,’ I have lost my way in thick, dense fog, I have been entranced by the rosy glow of hidden objects, and I have often not seen things clearly (especially things farther away). But I leave the discovery of the metaphors to you, my reader. I love these foggy mornings, and I will be sorry to see them go when the storms of November hit us.


  1. Mary-Lou Gillette

    I have been thinking about fog for a few minutes. With my eyes closed I am remembering the sound of a fog horn and the rhythmic clang of a channel marker as we silently canoe through the still sleeping Boothbay Harbor. We paddle past the beautiful sailboats and impressive yachts and wonder what it must be like to own such wonderful things. We watch the sunrise and then hurry to shore before the harbor gets too busy for our tiny craft. Coffee and doughnuts at the Ebb Tide await! A perfect Maine summer day.

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