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Lynn Hummel: Early morning fog makes the imagination run wild

It was a dark, damp, chilly, foggy April morning — the kind of morning that sends a shiver right down to your bones. That was the scene — and the mood — in the early morning hours today.

The fog said: you don’t want to drive today; you don’t want to fly today; you don’t want to go for a walk alone on the cobblestones out there today; and, there’s something out there that you can’t see and you don’t want to find out what it is. But take a good look and absorb it.

I remember creepy movies from when I was a kid — the foggy dark streets of London, the clip clop of unseen horses and the click of leather boots on the cobblestones behind you — getting closer and closer. Walk faster and don’t turn around.

Fog has always been a key ingredient in horror movies — they increase the feeling of something about to happen. The fog hides whoever is behind you and what is about to happen. By the time you can see what is, it’s too late to escape.

One of the creepiest movies ever made, “The Fog,” in 1980 was about a fishing town, Antonio Bay, in Northern California, that was built about 100 years earlier over an old leper colony. When the town was shrouded by a killer fog, zombie-like ghosts of the lepers who died there came gliding through the fog to seek revenge for their deaths a century before. One of the messages of the movie was “what you can’t see won’t hurt you... it will kill you.” I won’t tell you about Jamie Lee Curtis, the star, hitchhiking at midnight, except to say — don’t worry, she caught a ride. The movie was listed as one of the scariest ever. The 2005 remake of the same movie was listed as one of the worst remakes ever.             Fortunately for me, my experiences in the fog have not included ghosts or lepers. As a 14-year-old member of a crop spraying ground crew, I learned that crop spraying is not conducted in or just after a fog — not until after the dew is off the wheat. I got paid by the acre, so I could feel the dimes slipping through my fingers as we waiting hours and hours for the dew to evaporate. When the spraying did get started, I can assure you the herbicides I inhaled caused no goofiness whatsoever.

I remember my talented friend, Pete, a top-notch hot dog and flute player, using a bank of fog at an outdoor concert on a football field to mystify his solo as he walked out into the thickest of the mist. You could see only an outline of Pete, but his music was clear and beautiful.

I remember scary close calls in foggy traffic because the lights in the cloud ahead of you looked to be a half mile away, but were only the same distance as home plate is from the pitcher’s mound. It makes you tremble — “what if...”. I remember too, my nose on the window of the jet landing in the fog — coming down, down, down, wheels set for landing — but no lights and no runway. Then, at the last second, the runway was there about ten feet below us. We were bounding on it before we caught our breath. Yes, the fog is creepy in many ways.

But not always. Some of the most picturesque scenes we will ever see are seen through the fog. The shadowy trees just this morning were an example. Photographers know it. They have taken shots of city lights, bridges, and shapes of buildings through the fog that we can’t stop looking at. Another example, look this up if you can, in 1918, a German artist by the name of Caspar Friedrich, painted “Wander Above the Sea of Fog.” Is that lone figure looking at a mountain or the ocean? You may be surprised.

The next time you see a dense morning fog, you don’t have to be creeped out by it. You can enjoy it. The fog is not like a bright, clear sunny day. Give it your good judgment and caution, but lend it your wonder, your imagination, and your awe. You are observing one of the great mysteries of nature.