I do so enjoy foggy moments. Not the cerebral kind, but the thick inky times at dawn or dusk, or under a bright moon. Times when the world slows down and imagination fills in the murky distance with our greatest hopes and fears. We feel a foggy morning. Drink in the air, for it is thick; search out the night, for it is quiet and heavy. All the world waits — rests — until a fog lifts. Presently, I drive to the urban edge daily, and work near the old bahia fields. Last harvested years ago, they remain unkept and grazed by small forgotton groups cattle. The fields are crisp and brown from the winter draught. The brown sea of grass is broken only by the great oaks and tall pines the line the wet runs of intermittant creeks and strands. All are sleeping until the wet and warm of Spring returns.
At night, I drive a winding suburban road. The neighborhood homes are well back from the road and hidden behind an expanse of original woodland. Pines and live oaks, draped with Spanish Moss, disguise the truth, and leave one in the imagined world of the unspoiled oak hammocks and pine barrens that once spread far and wide. Alone, I follow the trail, not a sole but my shadow accompany me. Street lights standing astride the asphalt cast a conal shadow of light. Headlamps only obscure the onrushing distance, so again I slow down, and drink in the cloistered beauty of the cloaked urban forest. Rid of the walls of cat briar, ivy and vines of the wild, it is a picture postcard of the imaginary frontier made real.
I enjoy the mists and fogs that come with the winters of south Florida. They burn off to reveal the glorious warmth of a sub-tropical sun. They retreat and let the world truly wake. I do not recall looking forward to the inpenetrable fog of my hometown: a place where it would roll in off the Pacific and linger for days, at times so thick that the sun would be a dull disk in the sky. I do enjoy the heightened beauty of the misty dawns over the wet prairies of Manatee County. The whole world is afire in the glow of a brilliant amber sun. Even the cloistered nights are free of the sinister cloaca of an unyielding fog.
Soon, the sleepy fields of the rural fringe will sprout homes — the children that live there will not know the peace of a still rural morning. Instead they will have the joy of their present company. Certainly, the fog will return, as it always does, rolling out of the marshes of the Manatee, and bringing with it a unique urban stillness. Where there were once shadows beneath the great arms of ancient oaks and the black silhouettes of scrub pine rising out of the grey folds of a misty quilt, there will be bodiless voices in the distance, the hissing of tires on wet pavement by cars unseen, and the glow of street lamps alight long after dawn. A diiferent beauty framed by the same mists drifting out of a new dawn.