The fog of the Veneto had smothered the entire Venetian Lagoon with a cottony wall of cold vapor. There was nothing to see on this vaporetto ride out to the Lido—nothing outside the windows that is. Inside the cramped boat’s cabin, I stared at the back of a fellow passenger. He, in turn, was staring at the back of the person in front of him. And on it went from back to front of the boat. Like several hundred anchovies in a tin can—the salted kind from Sicily—we were jammed into the steel confines of this listing vessel. It seemed like a one-way trip to Purgatory.
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The San Francisco waterfront was still gray from the early-morning summer fog. For the second time in two weeks I’d visited this very spot with my camera. The waterfront seemed different on this day. As I looked deep into the bay, the reflections danced with a darkness that I found compelling. Mostly amorphous, they changed as we came up adjacent to the San Francisco Bay Bridge. These long, linear reflections made me stop in my tracks. The bridge has become familiar after ten thousand visits to this waterfront, seaming nothing like it did the first time I laid eyes on it some thirty years ago. Back then the sight of the bridge made me gasp, now it brought a faint smile and a deep breath of gratitude.
The wind is howling this morning. It howled last night and for the three nights before that. Wind signals change. Something is blowing out and is being replaced by whatever is blowing in. By the time whatever is on the way actually arrives the wind will have wreaked its havoc. Broken planting pots, fallen garbage cans, branches and leaves are everywhere. This wind leaves behind the debris of change as it blows in something new. And I suspect that something new is the summer season.
Three weeks in Venice is hardly a long time. But, at the start it felt that way. I fooled myself with the illusion was that I'd be there forever—that I was there for good. But, three days later I found myself counting. I was secretly counting the days until the arrival of my sad departure. I shook this diabolical countdown off with a shudder. But, it didn't work. The little clock continued ticking away in my brain and then chimed in again the very next morning.
It takes a week for the adrenaline to wear off. It takes longer than that for sting of jet lag to mellow. It takes time for one's ear warm to other languages. One's brain must sharpen to the constant calculation of currency exchange rates. But, once the body, mind, and soul convert to Italian it all changes. Life settles into the sweet cadence of life in Venice.
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.
The Golden Gate Bridge was shrouded in fog on a recent July morning. This pleased me as I drove across it, for it is my favorite way to see the bridge. Actually, I couldn't see very much of it on this summer day. The bridge was there but mostly invisible. My imagination was needed to complete the picture. The very best thing about the bridge is how it constantly changes in the light and weather. And the best bridge weather for the bridge is thick fog.
A sneaky, little heat wave is sinking its tendrils into our neighborhood. These nasty things barely announce themselves. The change starts off with an imperceptible shift in the breeze. The branches of our weeping birches go this way instead of that. Or they swirl around indecisively until they decide that the ocean air is no longer welcome. Like a songbird being stalked by a raptor, suddenly I look around, head darting from side to side. "Shit!" I hate heat waves. Give me a drippy, rainy, foggy, gloomy day anytime. I look at anyone who says they love the heat with bemusement. I just don't understand it.
Short and nasty. A heatwave hit us here in Northern California last week. The summer had been the coldest I can remember. It was fog for weeks, maybe months. After awhile the days blur together into a diffuse mass of whiteness. Then, in a moment, everything got hot. Very hot. A few days later, just as quickly as it came, it was over. The fog whipped in and the whiteness once again prevailed.
The world is at its best when it is nestling itself into the night's sleep. Second to that are the first stirrings of morning, before the crush of humanity has a chance to break the spell. A summer morning in San Francisco is particularly satisfying. Come July a thick, fog blanket shrouds the city in its daybreak which makes San Francisco the most silent of summer cities. This is especially true when one is away from the main arteries that feed the caffeine-starved commuters into downtown. A walk along the side streets and into the parks we find the morning vignettes that define the foggy, San Francisco dawn.