Top Photo: Misty morning over wetlands.
On a cool morning last week as I walked through the wetlands there was a fog or mist hovering over the water. The fog was already “burning off” as I could imagine it must have been much more dense just an hour earlier.
It was a still and quiet morning, as foggy mornings tend to be. Among other things, fog brings to mind the low bellow of distant foghorns, the clang of buoy bells, a lone unseen gull squealing somewhere beyond sight. No foghorns or buoys here though. Here, it elicits images of perhaps a single bird calling from deep within the shroud of mist, a muskrat, mink or otter splashing about in the water in its quest for food, or a spring peeper calling from a nearby swamp. It’s always one, a lone individual or thing, magnifying the quiet stillness.
This phenomenon, fog or mist, occurs over bodies of water more frequently in autumn as we go from hot humid days to cool dry days and the daily ambient air temperatures begin to fall. Water takes longer to cool than air. On nights with clear skies the air cools much more quickly than the dense water.
A cool layer of air from the surrounding land settles in over the pond and is met by evaporating air from the much warmer water. As the warm, rising, moist air cools, it condenses, forming a cloud over the pond. On windy nights the cool dry air and warm moist air is mixed and stirred, blurring or eliminating the line between the two, and fog fails to appear.
As the morning progresses the differential between the two air masses lessens and the fog or mist “burns off,” or more correctly, the water droplets which make up the fog or mist evaporate.
Remember this the next cool morning you’re hiking our outdoor loop, or your favorite local trail. Stop and ponder that low lying fog bank hanging over the water or wet meadow in front of you.
Or don’t think about it at all. Simply appreciate the still, quiet solitude of the scene.