As summer winds to a close the signs of fall are all around us. One by one boats and docks are being pulled from the lakes, slowly revealing the contours of the shoreline, our views of the shoreline are slowly becoming closer to what they would be without humans. The sun rises at a more reasonable time; we are no longer giving up daylight to get eight hours of sleep. The birches begin to drop their leaves one at a time and eventually they will rain down in even the faintest breezes.
As I write this I can see a loon just down the shoreline that is beginning to go gray, the beautiful black and white color scheme that is so striking, beginning to turn into a much less conspicuous gray for the winter. A small flock of songbirds flies overhead, tweeting one note at time, as they go, not needing 140 characters to communicate.
It is the longer cooler nights before the water in the lake has cooled too much that I look forward to. Warmer water temperatures mean the nighttime temperature doesn’t need to be as cold. On these nights if the winds are calm and the humidity is high the fog that forms turns the lake into a mysterious and ethereal scene.
The familiar scene is no longer there, having been replaced with something that could be out of a dream. It might be that you are unable to see the far shoreline or only a faint impression of it. The fog can separate parts of the shoreline that ordinarily blend together, revealing points and bays that you know are there but normally can’t be discerned.
Some mornings the fog combines with overcast skies to produce a monochromatic scene. Other mornings thick fog and sunlight can combine to produce colors that we thought only possible in paints and fabrics. On these mornings the fog can be so thick that an eagle perched in a tree 50 yards away can’t be seen. When this thick fog begins to burn off, sunrays may be seen as fog dances across the surface of the lake or the fog may look more like the smoke rising from a wildfire.
While fog may be a bit uncommon in Central Minnesota making it a bit of a novelty for us. My experience is that no matter how similar the fog is from one time to another, it is always different. Each occurrence of fog moves in its own unique way, burns off at its own rate and the way that it interacts with light is always different and ever-changing.
So this fall on those cold mornings don’t curse the temperatures but see if you can’t witness some foggy magic.
-EAK, September 2014