Fifty-One Shades of Grey
In Lapland, there are eight seasons. The hardy and colourful inhabitants of this near-Arctic region of Northern Finland don't box themselves into the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. They celebrate their unique weather patterns and have given their eight seasons glorious names: frozen Winter, crusted snow, melting ice, midnight sun, harvest, autumn foliage, first snow and polar night at Christmas.
I can almost read your minds. You're thinking, "Keen hard place. Eight seasons and five of them have snow, ice, frozen, Winter or polar in the description!"
Alas, the Laplanders embrace their seasons.
And so it is that we, the fine people of the Southern Avalon, enter what could easily be described as our fifth season, the season of fog. Fog. Fog. Fog. Damp, treacherous, persistent, grey. Cooling, refreshing, romantic, mystical. It arrived a week or so ago wearing a soggy t-shirt that said "Capelin or bust!" and we haven't seen across the cove to Branch since.
How do you feel about fog? Are you an occasional visitor to our area, spending most of your days wearing shades, slathered in sunscreen. For you, the fog may be a welcome sight, allowing a retreat from the sweltering heat. Or are you a dweller of the Easter Cove in Branch or the Gulch in St. Bride's or the old garden in Point Lance or the cliffy outcrops of Freshwater where fog is as familiar as your own name?
As a girl from the Gut, fog has been a part of my May June July life forever. I have warm memories of my father taking me by the hand to the light and horn where he'd use that storied, ancient key to open the red box and magically, that fog horn would sing a mournful, one note song to guide fishermen safely home.
Then, my introduction to the thickest fog known to humankind happened when I started working at Cape St. Mary's, undeniably the foggiest place on Earth. Many mornings I'd stand on the cliffs, watching the fog float in like a living veil, aware of the fact that the Labrador Current and Gulf Stream were dancing just 30 miles offshore, laughing at all of us complaining about our straight hair becoming unmanageably curly.
About ten years later, upon marriage to Mr. Chris Mooney, I moved to the foggy shores of the Easter Cove. I had grown with the fog, worked with the fog and now I was learning to live with it. The fog doesn't just visit here, it has a presence here. Branch can be awash in sunshine while over on top of the hill and in Beckford, the fog approaches stealthily, like an almost invisible army boldly intent on taking over a small country.
So it would seem that we have a relationship with fog here. We don't just see it. We feel it. We experience it. Regardless of your reaction to seeing that big grey wave on the horizon, ready to blanket you and yours, we must acknowledge the gifts that fog offers. I'll mention two.
First, we cannot talk about fog without talking about the little fish that valiantly act as the foundation of our fishery - capelin. Each year, as the fog descends upon us, it heralds the imminent arrival of these bright and brave creatures. Capelin weather, as it is called, always reminds me of the blessing of living in Branch. Here's the logic. The capelin graciously feed the gannets that highlight the Cape that gives Chris a job he loves that ensures we don't live on a street called Smithville Crescent. Thank you fog.
Second, the cool, misty, hydrating fog acts as a natural moisturizer for all those in search of a youthful glow. Of course the sun feels warm as it shines upon your face but what about the effect on your skin? The next time you hear that it's a scorching 28 degrees in town, look at your fog-drenched skin and remember that at 91 you'll only look 90.
I realize that not all of you feel the same way about this moody, mystical weather phenonenon. I know that I risk assassination by those of you who haven't been able to hang out clothes in two weeks. But I humbly ask that you try to see all the aspects of fog, all of its many shades. It's mischievousness as it moves in, moves out. It's dramatic nature as it heaves itself in over the Hajers. And it's unabashed determination as it lingers and lingers. Because like most things in life, it's not always about how things are but more often about how we choose to see them. Just ask the crowd in Finland.