Walking in the Fog

Tuesday 22nd November

On Sunday morning there was a splendid fog; a really dense white-out of a fog, not quite a pea-souper but quite superb all the same.  As soon as I looked out of my window and saw this thick blanket of whiteness I was enthralled, captivated, and quickly getting dressed I went out walking in the park.

Not being a car-driver, I suppose I have a quite different perspective of fog; rather than a dangerous element to be avoided or requiring extra caution, I find it a beautiful and strangely affecting phenomenon. I especially love the silence it seems to bring with it, and again maybe this is slightly illusory, but it is as if time stands still, or at any rate slows down in a fog.  I think this is because one of your basic senses, spatial awareness, is so dulled and dented, that you almost enter a new world, one of limited vision and tighter horizons, so your world is suddenly reduced to the few yards you can see and hear and smell ahead of you.

And here, walking alone before eight on a Sunday, here in the heart of the metropolis you could just as well be in a small copse or a completely unpopulated island or in a fairy tale, or like Titania in your own mid-Autumn days dream a million miles away from reality.

I especially love the way that trees gently loom into view, being at first just the hint of a shadow, a pale grey against the blankest white and as you approach, they unfold themselves from the mist, and drip their silent Autumn wetness on you.  The very bark seems alive, especially the variegated blotches of the maples and the shiny skin of the silver birches, and as you pass they silently fold themselves back into oblivion again.

And not a soul was around, and even the dog-walkers, usually so active early on, were kept indoors by this alien atmosphere, and I seemed to have the whole park to myself.  But even this was maybe an illusion too; maybe there were hundreds of silent walkers out in the park and our receded vision kept us unaware of each other, each hermetically sealed in our opaque worlds, where even sound seems muffled, and the smell of the fog is so dense that we are one with the mist as we too drift aimlessly along, with no sense of direction at all as the clammy chill seeps through our North Face jackets and into the very fibre of our being.

And the usual sun’s burning up the morning haze never happened, and we were more or less shrouded in this dense miasma all day long.  As I say, wonderful; a momentary lapse of nature and suddenly how we lose so much of our sense of importance.  Every year around this time the atmospheric conditions are just right and down comes the fog, sometimes in early December, but this year in late November and I can let myself loose and go walking again in this truly splendid fog.