Fog

fog
"I might be embodying one of those wise men before he found his trail …"

I can tell that Christmas is coming because I'm five days into trying to locate the wreath hanger without having found it yet. Each year, the wreath hanger proves to be the last of the decorations in use. The rest of the trimmings have already been tucked away into that location in the deepest corner of the basement, so rather than re-open that closet, I find some clever little tucked away spot to store the wreath hanger, a spot so intuitive and obvious that I most certainly will not repeat the lengthy search for it next season, only to always find myself searching again the following year. This is one reliable, certain sign of impending Christmas, though, so I suppose I should be grateful for the reminder.

I was fortunate to grow up in a part of the country where this season brought dense freezing fogs.
Christmas was more often white with hoarfrost than with snow. I understood from my earliest knowing the importance of having a Rudolph on the team, though even in my tenderest years, I doubted the efficacy of any red nose's illumination capacity. Who can't relate to being bullied out of playing any reindeer games by the bigger beasts. I had older siblings, too. I knew how they could get. Also, who could fail to aspire to be chosen for the lead position over all the tougher competition? The story carried a certain moral reassurance, perhaps the finest possible Christmas gift.

This holiday's fog exemplified how all holidays seemed to work. Horizons faded. Skys hung lower. People tucked in close and the rest of the world receded in response. Perspective narrowed. Usual ranges shriveled. By late afternoon Christmas Day, we were feeling constrained, ready to get out and do something, but, of course, everything was closed in recognition of the holiday and so there was no place to go. We were well on our way toward wearing the finish off of whatever had appeared under the tree and a fogginess settled in over the family.

Up here in the high country, fewer than half the people seem to understand how to deal with fog. Heaven forbid that anything inhibit mobility or speed, and headlights only get turned on if they help the driver see, rarely to help all the other drivers see where any you might be. We sneak up on each other like reindeer teams short their Rudolph, narrowly missing catastrophe again and again and again and again. The roads invisibly slicken until one of the regular speeders slides off into a ditch. The road down from the top of our mountain accumulates ditched cars like wasps in a honey trap. They can get in, but not get out again. Finally, someone posts a notice to the neighborhood listserv reporting that, surprise surprise, the road down the mountain's slick this morning. Better take it easy driving down. Headline news.

I've wracked my brain trying to remember just where I stored that wreath hanger last year. I clearly remember feeling inordinately clever when I finally tucked it away. I'm certain that I spent some of the rest of that day with dangerously elevated self esteem. How fortunate I felt to find myself so smart. I might have been storing up pride in preparation for this year's Fall, the waning days of which I'd find myself baffled as a son of a bitch again. My search seems tradition now, as clockwork certain as the lights going up downtown or the sugar snow banking over the shady backyard. I might be embodying one of those wise men before he found his trail, absent one unusually bright eastern star or shy his essential Rudolph, back when his future still seemed composed of Fog.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved








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