March 12, 2015

Horse 1858 - Fog

Living in a valley has many unexpected consequences. Firstly; because digital signals travel by direct line of sight, it means that if you can't 'see' the transmission tower, you get nothing. If you wanted to get ABC1, ABC2, ABC3 or ABC 24, whose transmission tower is occulted by a very large hill, then it's tough luck - not for you buster. Secondly, the fact that all the water drains towards the creek means that the plants tend to grow a lot better; this attracts the birds. I can regularly see galahs, cockatoos, crows, mynahs, finches, that weird dove with the spike on its head that makes that noise when it flies, and two feuding clans of magpies which I for the life of me can't tell apart but yet they can.
The thing that I notice more often as the sunrise begins later, is the amount of thick fog that settles in the valley. Mrs Rollo is surprised that I notice when police cars go by on the street and she doesn't and by the same token, I tend not to get as excited at the rain as she does. The fog on the other hand, is sufficiently interesting enough that we both notice it.

Most of the fog that I'd encountered before, tended to be burned off fairly quickly. I've tended to live in places which are more variable in their elevation and so the fog which I've usually seen, either spills down the hillside or is driven off by the sun.
The fog that collects in the valley though, is persistent and far more resilient. There have been plenty of mornings in the past where I've walked through it and left a tunnel of where I've been. It can look really strange (though I haven't been able to properly capture it in a photograph) of the tube left behind after a bird has flown through the fog. It's a little like staring down a train tunnel, except that you know that the 08:24 to Night Vale isn't going to arrive.

You can walk through such a fog and not realise that your clothes and hair are becoming ever so imperceptibly damper; sometimes this is in concert with a special kind of cold that only rests upon the back of your hand; a cold which verges on the painful and yet refuses to subside upon being warmed.

The fog does not descend like a veil or a blanket but initially appears everywhere all at once. Probably this has something to do with fluid mechanics and nucleation points within the air itself but I know not if this is how it works.
I do know that whilst wandering around inside it, your visibility is defined by a sphere, or at least a half sphere which has settled upon the ground. It's your own portable bubble; one which moves as you do.
On many mornings when the fog does arrive, I can not see the end of the street. The things which are familiar, don't as much disappear as they  simply cease to exist. It's very much like being in one of those open sandbox type computer games where things are being rendered and removed as the need arises. The refresh rate also seems to be quite slow, with things like buildings and trees suddenly coming into view rather than being shaded in gradually. I even came across one section where it was as if there was a glitch in the system. I'd reached the end of the world and there was no more to render.


As cars and trucks hurtle through the fog, they too leave their own tunnels but they are much larger. Before they arrive, instead of lights being ablaze and piercing through the morning like jousting rods, it as if someone left a frosted nightlight on outside. Speed ceases to exist and you can watch these growing orbs burn ever more brightly until suddenly a car appears, before whizzing past and boring its tunnel in the fog, and then becoming a pair of red nightlights that gradually fade and fail? How can a light which burned so brightly suddenly burn so pale? Fog.

The birds which would normally greet the dawn with a cacophony of noise and confusion, remain silent. They dare not venture out into a morning where they meet the scenery or a truck, suddenly and terminally. So not only is the vast majority of the world missing but most of the soundtrack of the world is also missing.
To walk more than 40 yards on a morning such as this, is to walk in a world of IFR. There is no way that anyone can see 1000ft in any direction and its days like this that make me fearful of the not too distant future.
Once we've all switched from internal combustion engine cars to electric cars, how are we going to cope with a thing moving at 60km/h and we can neither see or hear it? How do we expect someone with an iDevice blaring away in their headphones to notice a Peugeot 209 √©lectrique or Holden Sparky?

The one thing that we can say about the fog though, is that it is pretty. The camera I was using can not capture that ephemeral ethereal way that the light dances around the world and by the time you've noticed, it's over.

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