August in the Marin Headlands means a heavy dose of wet, white fog. It is my favorite time to hike here—a rare chance to climb way up into the sky. They say that the hills here were formed by the tensions of the San Andreas Fault. It is here that the invisible stress of Mother Earth is made visible for all to see. The hills are gentle reminders of the grumbling that's going on far below the surface. And with this strain and with this fog we're allowed to scrape the heavens. That's why I so love August in these Marin Headlands.
Come September the magic will be gone. The sun will shine and most will rejoice in the departure of the fog. "Our best time of year!" they will proclaim. "Finally the sun!" they'll add. But, I will secretly lament my loss. Oh, the hills will still be glorious; golden, rolling, and restless. They shall be framed by an azure sky—palettes of yellow and blue vibrating against one another. The sun will warm the bones and cast intriguing shadows against the land. But, for me, it will be like awakening from a delicious dream. I'll try to pull the covers over my head and make the sun go away.
I've struggled for years to photograph this fog. It is ever-changing and elusive. It is hard to find its essence. It's an enigma wrapped in white. Never the same two days, or even two moments in a row, the fog teases and dances before my eyes. It chills my ears, condenses on my lens, and makes my fingers rigid and clumsy. It blows my hat off of my bald, cold head. It whistles at me, laughs at me. I try to capture it and to catch it in its flight. But, like a free and wild bird, it defies me and is always more glorious in its freedom than in the captivity of my camera.
Yet, I photograph it and photograph it again. I cannot help myself. I'm captivated by its magic as it makes me feel alone with the heavens. I used to feel the same way during the snowstorms of my youth. The dancing white flakes would transform and transport me. Back then I also had a white world all to myself—I'd look up and catch snowflakes in my eyes. We don't get snow here in our Marin paradise. Instead we have fog and actually, I like it better. It suits my tempestuous nature and sets me free.