Our fall has continued dry, yet yesterday morning I awoke to a thickness of fog hanging in the air. I grabbed my camera and drove about five miles north to one of our urban lakes. The further north I went the thinner the fog, until I arrived at the lake with blue skies and a beautiful sunrise. I was a bit bummed that I wasn’t getting the fog that I was hoping for, but I continued to photograph the lake and the fall colors. After about 30 minutes the setting changed, and the fog enveloped the far shore, then rolled across the lake from south to north. The atmosphere was just what I was hoping for. As I waited the fisherman moved closer to the point and I made this image. Two minutes later the fog had thickened even more and the fisherman was not visible and the even the reflections were hidden behind the fog. As fleeting and unpredictable as it can be, I love the ethereal and softening effect that fog can give to an image.
This past week we’ve had mild temperatures at night coupled with unusually high dew points resulting in a few mornings of fog — the kind that hangs around all day, never burns off, and makes the day gray and gloomy. It’s not a very usual occurrence here in Minnesota, so it’s always noticeable when it’s foggy for a day or two. That was the case until Friday night when the temperature dropped down to 24 degrees and the air was still thick with moisture. Even before daylight on Saturday it was evident that Mother Nature was gracing everything with hoarfrost. The moisture that was clinging to trees, plants, and even fences had frozen in the air. It was a wonderfully beautiful sight — our brown grass was dusted in sparkling white, and all the trees and branches were lined in frost. Even more unusual was that it remained this way until midday. The sun tried to break through the low clouds, and when the wind picked up ever so slightly there was a cascade of ice crystals that would fall down from the trees overhead. I hiked through a local park and the landscape looked like it was photographed with infrared film. I loved the way the frost outlined the individual links in this chain-link fence and the leaf that was captured within its squares.
I had more than one reader ask about the foggy morning that I wrote about last weekend. Each person said they wanted to see one of the photos that had gotten me so very excited about the early morning time that I was on the St. Croix River at Wild River State Park. I’m pleased to say that I had a difficult time choosing which photo to post for my response as I had more than one “favorite” image for that chance morning. But I narrowed it down to this image “Single tree island, early autumn” because it seems to sum up the whole morning. The fog is hanging in the air and over the river; the water is still so as to show the perfect reflection; the tree and the opposite hillside are glowing with the colors of fall, and the sun is just burning through the fog providing some blue sky and some beautiful lighting on the tree and the island. Within two minutes the scene changed — the sunlight was harsh and the fog had disappeared for that morning. I realized how fortunate I was to be at this place at this time on this morning. (And on another note…my lost cellphone was turned in by an alert hiker who found it along the trail near this very spot. Perhaps I was too caught up in my excitement over these perfect photographic conditions that I was unaware of other things such as cellphones.)
Autumn is quickly spreading across Minnesota, starting in the north and moving southward every day. Saturday morning I left the house before dawn and drove north to Wild River State Park, a beautiful park located right along the St. Croix River. The morning was cold with frost and blue skies, but as I approached the river valley I could see a thick blanket of fog hovering over the water. I quickly parked, collected my camera gear, and headed along a trail that follows the river. In the stillness of the morning with the sounds and sights muffled by the fog layer, I enjoyed a delightful hour of fall colors. All too soon the sun burned through the fog, the temperature rose, and the wind picked up. I was delighted to see a bald eagle soaring high overhead, and later a deer ran by, obviously hearing my approach before I had even seen her. The time passed quickly amongst the golden leaves of the forest, and when I returned to my car I realized I was missing my cell phone. It must have fallen somewhere along a trail (or maybe even into the river). I reported the loss to the park staff and drove home with the hope that someone might find it or it might become a new treasure for someone’s geocaching trip. As the remainder of the day wore on and no word on my phone I mentally retraced my steps and thought that I might have dropped it near the front of where my car had been parked. So this morning I made the pre-dawn drive back to Wild River State Park, only this morning was a completely different scene. The night had been warmer, so there was no frost and no fog – only the bright sun as it crested the bluffs on the Wisconsin side of the river. I searched the parking lot to no avail, but took the opportunity to hike another trail further north in the park. With the bright sunlight the trees were glowing in their shades of yellow and gold. I appreciated the contrast between the two mornings and remembered that scenes and places are never the same, even when separated by only 24 hours. I have since replaced my cell phone, and I am not annoyed in the least at the “reason” I had to visit the park on two consecutive beautiful fall mornings.
Yesterday I awoke to a rare treat — a cool, foggy morning. For me, there is a special stillness and quietness that settles over the landscape when everything is shrouded with a soft blanket of fog . I found myself walking quietly so as not to disturb the air and the peacefulness that surrounded me. And because it was an early Saturday morning, the usual hustle and bustle of work routines were non-existent with few people out and about. Since moving to Minnesota I’ve realized that fog is one of the atmospheric conditions of the Pacific Northwest that I miss. As I was photographing this scene, I was reminded of the beginning of Carl Sandburg’s poem “Fog” where he writes “The fog comes on little cat feet.” It moves in quietly, settles, and then travels on. And as was the case yesterday, the sun and heat of summer eventually broke through the fog and we returned to blue sky and bright sunshine.