February Forces

Yesterday the fog hung low much of the day. Up on the hill on 41st Street where I buy vegetables and fruit, I watched the marine layer first begin its move on top of us in the later afternoon of the day before yesterday. I wished to myself that it would not roll all the way in, so that I could soak up another couple of days of winter warmth, and have some weather to brag about to my Hawaiian daughter. When the sky loses all of its color like this, I can feel the gray spilling down inside of me, and I struggle to resist, as though someone were pouring vinegar or some distasteful substance down my throat. If the sky is gray at my house, there is no easy place to escape from it. I’m a couple of miles from the ocean, so I can tell from here how deeply we’ve been invaded. I will go out and mix with it, but I’d rather not until the possibility of sun seems likely. It seems like walking in the fog and enjoying it will only encourage this pattern to continue, and I would like for it to stop. When I awaken to bright sun, even in winter, I am stepping about the house with grandiose plans for the day, but when this gloom hangs so thick simply everywhere, the cheeriest place to go is to my collection of books. Maybe Thoreau will give me a lift today during his adventures around his New England pond, or Teale will teach me how to look more carefully at little birds fluttering on the edge of the forest, and help me bring back some of the blue for which I’m looking.

There really is no need for me to respond this way to the fog. Underneath it all, the process of spring renewal is going on quite splendidly. Some tiny winter flowers have come out of the cold earth, signaling warmer days ahead. I need to keep my thoughts in alignment with the extraordinary forces at work just beneath my own feet, rather than allow my mind to be so easily persuaded by the moment. Why do I let the fog have its way with me? I’ve lived on or near the coast for fifty years. An outsider would think that I had just moved here.

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