Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Why An Early Get Up

Why An Early Get Up
Gus Fitch
5 January 2016

Its 0645 on the bank of Golden Pond on Club Drive.  Before I took these shots, the sky and its contact with the pond's water are black.  There is not enough light for a mirror image, yet.  Some where straight ahead just out of sight, is an owl who is "singing" like no owl I have ever heard or seen.  The bird's utterances are so loud that the raptor seems sitting on your shoulder.  It is the only distraction from the ground fog that covers the pond and softens the details of any object or living thing.

Decades ago, I was taught in flight school that several conditions must exist before ground fog can be seen. First, the dew point and the temperature must be within 2-4 degrees of one another and there should be a breeze of four knots, no more, to stir the air and give birth to a weather phenomenon that floats only a couple of inches above the surface of the earth and does not usually get higher than a six foot man.  Between these limits, visibility is zero until the warmth of new day heats the air and returns the ground fog to liquid droplets or back to a gaseous water vapor.  The sensitivity of ground fog to the delta between dew point and temperature may be visualized by an early morning ride with Rex Decker.  We were motoring east on I-90 in South Dakota when we entered a stretch of road, I know not its length, that was marked by very sine wave moguls each less than a hundred feet in altitude.  The low point of each wave was filled with ground fog.  You had to slow down to a crawl because all that was visible as we descended to the bottom of each mogul, was the white center line of the Interstate.  We would slowly motor up the front of the next mogul and come out of the fog long enough to take a deep breath and descend again into the white void.  Since the moguls were so shallow, we were amazed that 100 feet, with less than one degree in temperature and due point spread change, could make such thick ground fog.

This misty cloudlette always seems to add a sense of foreboding to any scene in which it plays a part.

What lies behind, under or within the visual barrier?  No one knows with the possible exception of the Shadow.  It's all about imagination, yours and mine.

Let there be no argument that the beauty of the surrounding landscape is softened, the objects of the pond are put out of focus, the fog's light bending powers changes the color of the water, the vegetation but most especially the sky.  An observer need not feel or see the ground fog covering him up to impact all things seen.  Any amount of liquid water suspended in the air will put the mark of nature on its colors and forms.

The photo, close by, was taken at 7:06AM and there is a mild chill in the air and the surface of the pond is a perfect mirror even in these poor light conditions.  I am standing with the water over the ankles of my water and snake proof boots. I have both hands on my spinning rod imitating some Samurai warrior and I am like a statue in a town square...immovable and gray.  If I should take a selfie at this moment, I am sure my mouth would be open signifying my complete absorption in taking it all in.

I am most familiar with this pond.  As a result, I note the differences that I see on a clear sunny day compared to what I am looking at now.  I can not see the storm fallen pine lying flat in the water with Bream and Bass using its boughs as hiding places from larger predators. But, I know its there and its presence is comforting.  The pine's profile will soon have its veil lifted and the black and shadow encrusted object will reveal the last few green Long Leaf needles and the rough texture of its bark.  I see these things in my head and wait until I can, once again, view the whole object as it's enemies coordinate their efforts to remove the last living cells from its proud trunk and roots. Like us all, it passes away.  Although the pine and a best friend may end up as ashes, death, lacks the ability to rob us of our memories, our passions and verbal recollections shared with a best friend in times gone by.

Soak it all up at every opportunity.

Soak what up?  I do not have a clue. I only know I feel it when I can start a conversation with a perfect stranger and have the stranger join in the conversation to create a dialog about any given subject. Appropriately, I also feel it in what might be called my "soul".  This may be an emotionally charged word, but the beauty that surrounds us, envelops us, caresses us and provides a visceral sensation of goodness, attaches itself to our better angels and we are better off because of the power of beauty.

To paraphrase a line from the "Dead Poets Society"...suck the marrow out of life every day.

It may be trite, but for those of my generation..." the end cometh, and that right soon", makes the reality of a human frailty, death, as much a part of life as birth.  However, the fact that death is closer to us now than it was 50 years ago seems sad to contemplate.  What is sad to contemplate is our propensity to allow so many opportunities to slip away through slough and apathy.  We squander the chance to absorb the contents of character and the possibility of friendship of a fellow human traveler.  These opportunities, frittered away, can not be restored.

Here, from one far more skilled than I:

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Carl Sandburg