by Carl Sandburg
THE fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
When I woke this morning, it was dark as night, and when the sun finally struggled into the sky, it was hidden behind a thick, white fog that had settled in while I was sleeping. Seattle, a city on the water, and the Queen of the cool, wet Northwest, is a foggy place — second only, I think, to San Francisco.
After writing for a few hours, I put on my jacket and stepped out into the misty morning. I walked up the street towards the park high on the hill. The orange tom cat that patrols the neighborhood was out, padding carefully through the fog on his little paws, his whiskers twitching curiously. I crossed Taylor Avenue and continued up the steep road towards the park. The fog grew denser as I climbed, condensing on my cheeks and turning my hair to damp curls. It felt like I was ascending into the sky, walking directly into a cloud. Which, in a way, I was.
When I reached the park at the top of the hill, I looked down and saw a blanket of white. Where Lake Union should have been was nothing but mist. The city itself — the skyscrapers, the Space Needle — all of it had disappeared into the fog. Only my immediate surroundings existed. Everything else had been erased, leaving rubbed-out white spaces, like a piece of paper heavily worked on by a strong hand and a fresh Pink Pearl.
The fog absorbed the sounds, too. I walked down Bigelow street, with ghostly footsteps on the damp pavement. Everything was hushed and blurred, and I felt alone in the world.
But then, as I passed a lamp post, I noticed a perfect spider’s clinging to it. Each silvery strand shimmered with water droplets from the fog. And now I noticed another web in a tree, with a demure black spider waiting patiently in the very middle. Above my head ran long strands of silk – spider walkways from one tree to another. Had there always been so many spiders in Seattle? How had I never noticed them before?
The fog had brought them to my attention, of course. Now, as I walked home, I noticed a dozen more webs. They were all wet and shining in the trees and bushes and against the street signs. They were beautiful — woven works of art in silvery white. I noticed more silky strands stretching across the sidewalk, like magic trip wires. I must walk into these sometimes, I thought, on sunny days when they’re all but invisible.
The fog had hidden the city from me, and yet it had showed me something beautiful. What else was I walking by each day, utterly oblivious to its existence? I guess if you live in a world that is sunny all the time, you will only ever see the obvious. It takes a dense fog rolling in, blotting out the big stuff, to show you what you’ve been missing.