Through the fog


We need a voice to call across the water, to warn ships…a voice like all of time and all of the fog that ever was:…a voice  that is like an empty bed beside you all night long, and like an empty house when you open the door, and like trees in autumn with no leaves.   A sound like the birds flying south, crying, and a sound like November wind and the sea on the hard, cold shore.  I’ll make a sound that’s so alone that no one can miss it, that whoever hears it will weep in their souls…’ The Fog Horn – Ray Bradbury


At the end of the north pier, where the river transforms into the sea, the fog horn dwells.  Housed in a squat, brown lighthouse on the pier that took more than fifty years to build because the waves kept breaking it down, beyond the Black Midden rocks where so many ships saw their end; there the fog horn dwells.  At night, I can hear its moan, seeping in the windows. That deep, melancholy howl is one of my favourite sounds in the world.  Sometimes, I hear it in daylight, if the air is quiet, often accompanied by the honk of ships’ horns.  But it’s a sound that really belongs to the night, when it speaks to the loneliness within us all.


The world is a softer, more mysterious place when it is wreathed in fog.  Fog blurs the landscape round the edges.  It makes the air feel hushed.  The world around us is altered or no longer there.  In the park, as others sleep, we walk mist-blurred paths, lit by fog shrouded lamps.  The river is gone, everything south of it lost in a foggy haze.  Before work, I’m alone in another park.  To the pond, where the trees are damp and laden with dewy spiders webs.  Canada Geese and mallards float lazily, as though the fog makes them slower.  Beyond, the distant trees blend into the horizon, the buildings behind them invisible.  Fog is not unusual here, where it rolls straight off the north sea.  A drenching, gossamer fret that leaves droplets on the skin and a freshness in the air.  The week before last, the fog barely lifted.


Fog is perfect for tales of mystery and suspense.  It distorts and bewilders.  It cloaks dastardly deeds or monstrous creatures.  Its mystery lies in what it might conceal.  Until recently, my favourite fog fiction was the 1980 movie The Fog, in which a town’s history comes back to haunt it.  I love the movie probably more for its atmosphere than its story.  But then I discovered Ray Bradbury’s short story, The Fog Horn, with its conjuring of the ancient mysteries of the deep and the aching loneliness of the horn that calls to it.


Fog is really nothing more than droplets of water suspended in the air.  Yet the science does no justice to the wonder of experiencing it and the emotions it evokes in us.  Where I feel delight, others feel fear.  The word ‘fog’ is synonymous with confusion and gloom and murky evocations of Victorian London would not be the same without descriptions of the smog caused by a lethal mixture of soot and fog.  But usually, fog is transient.  Just like that, the fog is gone and the world is no longer enchanted.  We’ve come through the fog and everything is clear once more.






49 thoughts on “Through the fog

    • I don’t really drive Carrie, so that’s not something I have to worry about! I did watch the 2005 movie but can’t remember it at all so don’t know how close it is to the original – The Fog is one of those movies I think never should have been remade – the 1980 one is a little bit hammy and the special effects aren’t great, but it’s just the thought of not knowing what might come out of the fog…


  1. ‘But it’s a sound that really belongs to the night, when it speaks to the loneliness within us all.’ I can completely resonate with this. At night, I often hear the horn of some lonely ship out at sea as though it’s trying to let us know of its existence. It’s cry travelling over the sleeping suburbs. The fog horn reminded me. This is a beautifully written post, Andrea.


  2. What a beautiful post, Andrea! The timing is amazing as I’ve been working on a short story about a lighthouse keeper. I’ve been contemplating whether or not to submit it…your post is a sign. Thank you for this!


  3. Beautiful evocation of the fog. Your choice of words and verbs make the fog very vivid.
    I agree with the feelings human beings experience through this strange natural phenomenon. Where I live in California I am above the fog line so in the winter my house seems to float surrounded by the fog shrouding the valley. Down there people call it the tule. The Native Americans say that when small pounds and marsh areas were dried out to accomodate modern agriculture, it wasn’t supposed to happen. The tule is rising in protest from the places where water once ran.
    This year we have had almost no rain, so no fog either. And I have missed it as it also a symbol of California winter.
    Thank you for a gorgeous text about one of the most mysterious natural weather patterns that keeps inspiring us.


  4. Love this post Andrea. It’s so true how the world that one is familiar with suddenly changes in a good fog or sea mist. I well recall a run along the commons on Jersey’s south-west coast and it was unreal – I could have been anywhere at all.


  5. Beautiful post, Andrea. Fog is mystical. I love watching it hover above fields and ponds. I don’t know that short story, but the excerpt is enough to make me want to read the whole thing.


  6. What a beautiful evocative post Andrea! It’s written as one continuous poem. I also love the fog and though I’m not living close at sea, the magic is not less here in the woods. Some may find it creepy, others mystical, it all depends on our perception and mood at that moment, I guess. I love to walk on a foggy day – the sounds of nature seem to be amplified by this phenomenon.


  7. Some people say fog when they mean mist, just as some people say they have flu when they have a cold 😉
    A true fog can be quite terrifying. I remember once driving and not being able to see more than a yard in front of the car. That definitely required use of the horn.
    I enjoyed the film, “The Fog” too.
    Those are lovely photos, Andrea.


    • Thanks Sarah. Yes, we have our share of both. We quite often get a sea fret which is quite ephemeral, but we had some real fog that last week, which obliterated everything within a few feet. Fortunately, I’ve never had to drive in fog.


    • Yes, I love train whistles too! We have a railway museum not far away so we often hear the whistle of the steam train as it runs down the track. The museum used to be part of the area I managed at work, so I got to take a ride in the driver’s cab and blow the whistle – great fun!


  8. I loves walks in the fog. My favorite part is how the world not only looks different but also sounds different. The muffling of normal sounds and animal noises gives them an otherworldly flavor. My husband grew up on one of the Great Lakes, and when his parents still lived there I could hear the foghorn at night. It is a sound that carries us away, isn’t it?


  9. This post really speaks to me Andrea. Love the Ray Bradbury quote. Like you, I love the sound of the fog horn. When I first moved to California, as a young mum with my then husband and little boy I was so far from home and my family and friends and I didn’t know anyone. We lived by the bay and so in the summer, when it was so hot inland we lived beneath the foggy marine layer and the sound of the fog horn drifting across through the heavy mist from the nearby coastline matched perfectly my mournful state of mind but in a strangely comforting way. I remember the cosiness and safety I felt when hearing it. A magnified loneliness which seemed to have found a friend. For years, every evening it seemed, there it was. I will never forget it and missed it when we moved. I miss it today!
    Beautifully written as always, and I love your photos too. All the very best with your book submission Andrea!


    • Thanks Sherri, it’s a great quote, isn’t it? And I love your description of your Californian fog experience – hearing that sound gives me that melancholy, comforting feeling you describe. Like when I hear the wind whining around the house, or it’s pouring outside, but with the fog horn, it’s even more atmospheric.


  10. Phenomenal words and photos, Andrea! I love the fog as well and certainly enjoy its mystical veil on any place. I experienced a lot of fog growing up in Southern California. I remember playing tag with my friends on the foggy playground field. Definitely made that game more interesting!


  11. I love the photos — they definitely remind me of the East Coast of the U.S., where I grew up — we just don’t have marshes filled with barren trees like that out in Northern California. That, of course, has its advantages, as I don’t live near a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other nasty insects anymore, but the fens have a mystery about them that cries out for exploration.


    • Thanks Chris – those photos are from a little haven which is actually in the middle of an urban area, surrounded by office blocks – but you’d never know it, it really is a sanctuary – and the fog, of course, hides the buildings nearby. But it is bog land – a network of ponds and marshy ground with all the wildlife that goes with it.


  12. Pingback: The song of the earth | Harvesting Hecate

I love comments, please leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.