At Home In The Fog

Sydney Waterfront, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, May 2015. Photo by me.
Sydney Waterfront, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, May 2015. Photo by me.

Update 2019/03/18: Replaced featured image

I went for a swim last night. I really didn’t want to, but I made myself go anyway. Still, it pained me to leave the house. The heavy rain and dark, overcast sky made it the perfect kind of day to sit at home with the window open, sipping tea while working on something interesting — or just READING. My goodness, yesterday was a perfect reading day.

But, I packed myself up and went swimming anyway. So much rain! And on my way into town, I was listening to a podcast wherein the host declared that San Diego, California had the best weather on the planet.

Asilomar photo by Jay Cross
Photo by Jay Cross

Well, I’ve never been to San Diego, but I would be very surprised if I liked the weather there more than the weather in Pacific Grove, California. Pacific Grove, or the Monterey Bay area which PG is a part of, has at least for me and my needs the best weather I could possibly imagine. And I even went there during the cool season.

I lived in Pacific Grove from October 2001 until right after the new year. I only spent three months there before my mom and I moved back to Virginia, but in many ways PG is still home to me…home in a way no other place has ever been. I loved the restaurants, the shops, the scenery…Asilomar Beach is one of my all-time favorite places. The tide pools at Asilomar were amazing. I would stare into them for hours, fascinated by the anemones, the sea stars, the urchins. I spent a decent part of Christmas Day 2001 on Asilomar. It was outrageously cold and damp, but it’s still one of my favorite memories, and gave me one of my favorite photos of myself, courtesy of my photographer mom.

Photo of Whitney by E. Faye Ferrall, December 2001
Photo by E. Faye Ferrall, December 2001.

But of course what I loved the most was the weather. The FOG! Oh my goodness, the fog. It was a kind of fog rather difficult to explain, but seriously, there are different types of fog:

There’s the misty kind that’s so thick with tiny suspended rain drops that it might as well be raining, and it probably will annoy you that it isn’t raining because even intermittent wipers are too frequent to prevent wiper-squeal.

There’s the thick kind, which looks a lot like mist but isn’t quite as damp. The thick kind is pretty evenly foggy. It might feel oppressive or light, but either way you can’t see far in front of you.

And then there’s PG fog which is truly like a layer of cumulus clouds along the ground, and driving through it brings the fog at you in dense waves.

It rolls in off the water and blankets the area. It has an upper limit, so if you’re driving into PG along the coast you can see the layer of fog obscuring the view of the town, but you can see the mountain poking out the top. Driving in along the highway, it would be clear and warm, and once you started to descend the mountain into PG you’d enter the fog and the temperature would drop off dramatically. The sun was just a vague glowing orb above you. Sometimes it would be clear once you got into PG, but other times the fog stuck around, just hanging in the air, making things hard to see but adding so much beauty.

I’m thinking about the fog lately because last week, I experienced it again.

Here in Cape Breton, we usually get the misty kind of fog. It might as well be raining when it’s foggy. It just sits there giving less-than-drizzle, making things pretty but generally not providing the exact, right kind of mood. Oh, but last week…

Sand dune at Asilomar photo by Wonderlane
Photo by Wonderlane

I was driving from New Waterford to Sydney. I wish I could have stopped to take a picture, but I would have been late for a meet-up with a friend. Sometimes the ethic to be punctual is a real pain! But I really wanted to take a better look at this fog. I drove over a bridge. The fog was coming right off the water. It snaked upwards from the water in tufts.

It was a lot thicker on the ocean side of the bridge, so thick that it had formed cumulus clouds. I saw PG-style fog and my heart leapt. It was so thick on the ocean side, and rolling in so quickly, as PG-style fog tends to do, that it created a stream of fog in an arc over the bridge. It was like someone was blowing smoke from one side of the bridge to the other. I was seriously in my heaven.

As I drove away from New Waterford, the fog cleared up and the temperatures rose, until I was out of the fog and it was sunny and clear with cumulus clouds in the sky, which is exactly how PG fog works. As beautiful as the warm, clear air was, I would have given anything to be back in the fog, bundled up and walking on the beach.