As a child I remember foggy mornings on Lake Michigan; waking up to the foghorns of freighters and stepping onto the deck to feel the chill of the moist air. I don’t remember, however, so very many days of fog. Maybe because we weren’t here in May and early June back then?
Either way, it seems more foggy here in recent years. The fog rolls in and stays, laying down a chill blanket that obscures the lake and shrouds the woods behind us. When you drive or walk inland as little as a quarter mile you’d never know as the sun shines cheerfully and blue skies prevail. We can’t be mad at the fog for hiding our surroundings–it has its own cool beauty.
It’s late afternoon and I’m breaking from work to write for just a moment. A sleeping cat on the chair to my right; a snoring dog on the couch to my left. It’s warm enough to have the sliding door open to the deck, and outside I hear a foghorn call every minute or so from one boat, getting louder and closer with each minute now, as well as the sounds of multiple birds and the buzzing of insects.
Our former neighbor Adeline is long gone, but her lilacs–even though they were chopped all the way down last year–have grown back and are just blooming. I like to think of Adeline, standing on her cement slab porch in her robe with an ever-present cigarette hanging from her lips, maybe shouting for her shovel because a snake is slithering across the slab, or laughing her gruff, hearty laugh. She was both rough and gentle and her lilacs, baby’s breath, and lily of the valley planted along the driveway and between our houses keep coming back, year after year, a testament to the past and a sweet reminder of persistence and grit melded with beauty and softness.
And now the sun is shining through the fog and I see sparkles on the lake again, the foghorn is getting distant, the dog is demanding an afternoon walk and I’ll have to get back to work.
A fog rolled in this morning and blurred the line between the lake and the sky in such a lovely, muted way. There have been boats all day so far, coming in and out of the fog. Some I can only hear the low hum of their motors; others, the tips of their sails peek out from the fog, like this one. Some seem to emerge fully from the fog only to be enveloped again.
I ventured down to the beach this morning to try to photograph the fog with my new pinhole camera. Because of the high water levels on the Great Lakes, our beach is slim (and on rough days there is no beach to be had at all). The stairs go down the bluff from the house, and then there is a short path that is carved through the prolific dune grass. The kayaks lie to the left of the path just as it drops to the beach. I paused for a minute there, for no good reason, and that’s when I realized that something was blocking my way… a short, thick, just-barely-darker-than-sand-colored snake, with no discernible markings. I’m not afraid of snakes, but I don’t exactly feel comforted by the fact that this one was just a few feet in front of my feet, and that this one, or one like it, could just emerge from the thick grasses onto the narrow path at any time. Of course I talked to it, asking it gently to move along, and it did in its own sweet time, in no rush at all. It didn’t seem threatened at all and moved under the kayaks and then back into the grasses.
That foggy day last week warranted an entire roll of film, much of it used in my neighborhood.
church steeple in fog, Kodak Tri-X 400, Minolta SRT 102
forgotten shoes in fog, Kodak Tri-X 400, Minolta SRT 102
Fog changes everything. The familiar is unfamiliar. There’s a lack of color, a mystery about things, a mood. A little eerie, maybe, to some. All I know is I could hardly wait to get to class last night. I had three rolls of film to develop–my first foray into developing my own film.
We learned how to work in total darkness, working shoulder to shoulder, cracking open our film canisters with can openers and carefully, blindly, passing scissors to each other. As far as I know there was no bloodshed. And then the processing, this part in the light, fortunately… we poured chemicals together, agitated our film- and chemical-filled canisters, chatted in between watching our timers, fretted about possible mistakes, encouraged each other, watched as images magically appeared.
The whole process was easier than I expected, and honestly a lot less smelly than I expected. I like that my class consists of mostly people younger than me, with a few my age or older. Some who’ve never touched a camera, some with years of experience or past experience, and some who have taken the class multiple times solely for open use of the darkroom. There is learning and teaching to be had here, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of it.
We woke up to a fog yesterday that never diminished. It blanketed my riverside town and persisted even into the early hours of this morning. Today calls for more rain and fog, I guess the result of unseasonably warm January temperatures.
I don’t think I’ve touched my digital camera in more than a month now–maybe longer. While I did shoot a roll of black and white film yesterday, I wanted some images I could see right away, so my DSLR went into my bag. My friend Jane and I drove to some of our favorite local natural spots to wander, get muddy, laugh, see things through our foggy lenses.