One recent morning, things seemed a little foggy. Literally foggy. Though not a common occurrence, a thick ground fog engulfed the region. While it burned off by late morning, the early daylight hours were murky. On a morning like that it was easy to get somewhat philosophical and also a little nostalgic. I thought back to my college days in California’s central valley where the tule fog season runs from 1 November – 31 March effectively encompassing the greater winter season along with a smattering of late fall and early spring. Though this recent Silicon Valley version wasn’t as dramatic as those in my bygone days, it reminded me of the times I used to enjoy walking in the mist in the early mornings.
In Davis the fog would blanket the region and could sometimes bring things to a standstill. The downside was that driving became extremely treacherous, so much so that there was usually at least one massive pileup along the Yolo Causeway per season. It was best to avoid driving when the fog was thick enough to obscure everything past the hood of your car. But that fog was also great fun to walk in through a quiet neighborhood away from any traffic.
Unable to see more than a few feet in any direction even on foot, it felt like I had the entire world to myself in that moment. Sounds were muffled. Lights were invisible until I was on top of them. The air was cool and invigorating. The world opened just a little in front of me as I moved forward. This was particularly poignant in the early morning hours before the town came alive.
Times like these were great for thinking. Thinking about why I was where I was in that moment and how I had gotten there. Thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in my lifetime. Thinking about the wonder of science. Thinking about how much we were like our ancestors despite the superficial advances humans had made over the centuries. Despite our technology and higher learning, we were still at the mercy of nature. A blanket of fog could stop everything, at least for a little while.
When I saw the early morning fog recently, the memories of my fog walks from decades ago came rushing back. This recent morning wasn’t like the ones in the past. The world didn’t stand still. There was still traffic moving along, and the sounds of cars moving past cut through the mist. I wasn’t moved to venture outside, only to look out the window and remember a different place at a different time.