Essays

Thoughts Upon A Foggy Night

needle through the fog (photo by Chris Blakeley)
needle through the fog (photo by Chris Blakeley)
Originally published on December 11, 2011

I love fog. I love the cliches it inspires, of romance and mystery. I love the way the air feels, the way sound travels in fog. I love how things appear and disappear in it, how it seems like anything could happen. You could run into a good friend or find yourself facing something entirely unexpected, an example of which would pale in the telling.

The thicker the fog the better — it puts me in mind of being an Army brat tweener living in Nuremburg, where I swear we’d get a fog you couldn’t see out of for more than 6 feet in any direction at least two or three times a year (this is probably an exaggeration on my part). I remember the first time I ever experienced fog — which must have been in Germany, because there wasn’t much of it in Colorado, that I can recall — the notion that I was walking through a cloud completely blew my mind. That giddy sense of awe is very quick to return when I witness fog rolling in.

I especially love night fog, which seems to be a rare occurrence in Seattle. Seattle is a morning fog kind of town, which is still pretty cool, but it tends to dry up in the sun, and that’s just not good enough for a fog junkie like me. What I love about night fog is the way artificial lights, particularly the soon to be replaced halogen tubes, play in it. Shadows become portentous, and colored lights are that much prettier. It makes items seen up close clearer, somehow.

We experienced some beautiful night fog last night. I was being given a ride home, and as we headed down Roy Street from Broadway, my friend and I could see Queen Anne being engulfed by a new wave of fog. As we reached the bottom of Roy Street Hill, where it intersects with Lakeview, we parked the car and walked halfway across the pass over I-5.

Soon, the Queen Anne antenna was the only structure visible; we couldn’t see Lake Union, hell, we could barely see across the Fred Hutch campus. The Space Needle floated above the Christmas lights on the cranes in the Cascade neighborhood. The downtown skyline and the lights on 2 Union Square were gorgeous to look at through the mist…

I could go on and on, I was so ecstatic to actually see the thickness rolling into and across town. It made me think about the night I just had, the last couple of days, the week, the month, the year. I’d just had a great night, and this was a great way to cap it.

Like seeing the Olympics from Capitol Hill on a clear day; or watching Seattle looming while riding the Bainbridge Ferry; approaching town going South of I-5 or North on the viaduct (R.I.P.); being in the middle of downtown, standing on the observation deck at the Eagles Aerie or back in the day where you could get a drink at the Cloud Room…Looking at the emerald jewel, at night, in the mist — it made me fall in love with it all again. It made all of the bullshit that exists in this town seem worth it. It was bliss.

Thank you, fog; please don’t be such a stranger.