At the partway-through end of yet another long day--up at 7:15 a.m., grading and meeting and preparing and teaching and conferring until 5:30 p.m.--I decided to take myself out for dinner. Again. I have been doing this every night, with the good news being that I'm actually hungry for dinner and that I'm supporting an important community establishment. You know the bad news side of eating in a restaurant every day. I don't need to tell you.
On the way to the coffeeshop, I was entranced by the remnants of our day's rainstorms hanging about on the crabapples' tiny fruits.
When I'd satisfied myself temporarily that these drops of water wouldn't disappear as if they'd never been, I headed on along to order from the menu that's been feeding me for ages. And dinner was lovely, and wandering and reading in the bookstore were also lovely. But it all paled to what happened next, as I wandered back toward the officehouse with a canvas bag over my shoulder, full of reading materials and of expensive chocolate. Down the hill, looking out to our western vista, I could see the tops of the valley trees being overtaken by a fog rising off the fields and hills across the state highway from campus. My evening shifted emphasis; I strode down the hill in pursuit of the white fog and of what it was doing to the trees and the hills.
By the time I turned around to walk back to the east and up the long, winding hill to campus, the fog had crept up behind me and around me as well. The funny thing about fog is that it's difficult to see that you're in it until you're not in it anymore: the closer I got to the field I wanted to photograph, the more it appeared that I was standing in relatively unfoggy territory. The further I got, the less I was able to get the pictures I wanted. As I walked back toward campus, I realized that whereas I was completely clear and visible to myself, I would not be quite so visible to oncoming traffic. What I realized, in other words, was some version of what's true at every moment of our lives: the terrible thing, the cataclysm, could be hurtling along through the fog at any second. Tonight, the terrible thing was not hurtling toward me; I am still loving the fog, and the evening of writing that my midweek suddenly made possible, when I returned to the officehouse around 8:30. In the near-dark. Because that's the part of the year we've now reached.
And now, to sleep, in this dampening, cooling night. All the streetlights are fuzzed stars in the lowered atmosphere.