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2006 02 05
A Faculty for Fog
Stuck in traffic as I was on the DVP, you can often see over the ravine, but not on this day. The fog fell over the city like a collapsed tent, allowing you to only see a few metres ahead. The traffic had been slowed due to a fender bender, and just when I was wondering how you could hit someone right in front of you in such slow traffic, I almost did exactly the same thing. The fog had flattened my view of everything in front of me, resulting in a quicker than expected stop, meaning a quicker than expected stop for the guy behind me too. Fortunately, any disaster was averted. It had been some time since I seen fog this thick. The view through the windshield was like red and white LEDs held behind a sheet of vellum. While it reminded me of all of the fog-bound days of my youth this was different. It was Toronto fog.

Growing up in St. John's, where during entire seasons you could count the number of sunny days on one hand, one develops a faculty for fog. Morning fog that moves, night fog that doesn't. Fog that burns off, and rises quickly or fog so heavy it's like standing beneath a low-flow shower head. All of which is different from the low curtains of fog of London or the billowy clouds of fog that drop over the hillsides of San Francisco. The wonder of fog, for me, is the effect of standing in a cloud. It's particularly acute on those spring mornings when low lying mist is burning off and you can see the hot spot of the sun cutting in streaks from above. Yet, I haven't seen many mornings like that recently. Toronto's fog for me usually means a dirty grey ceiling and inevitable wheezing brought on by asthmatic lungs soaking in damper than normal air. The unique quality of Toronto's fog to me is it's incredible evenness and stillness. Even warm, wet winter days in Ottawa produce a drifting mist, but not in Toronto. The fog really does just sit on the city.

There's something to be said of our brain's ability to recognize the angle of the sun such that we have some instinctual knowledge of the season and time of day, but I'm beginning to realize we also recognize the angle at which the sun is blocked. For me, the fog of a town is as much a part of its DNA as its streets, neighbourhoods and buildings.
[email this story] Posted by P. Rogers on 02/05 at 12:42 AM

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