Fairview gets a cold serving of pea soup fog
Just before 9 p.m. last night (December 27) clumps of congealed mist blowing through the street light shine signaled a sudden descent of fog over Vancouver’s Fairview neighbourhood.
The fog was thickest just after 9:30 p.m., when I snapped a few photographs in the 1300 and 1100 blocks of West Broadway Avenue and was all but gone by 10:30 p.m., when I was tucking myself snugly into my parkade for the night.
Compared to the fogs of spring, which are cool and damp, or those of autumn, which are cold and clammy, this first fog of winter was bitingly cold and penetrating.
If last night’s wasn’t an out-and-out ice fog then it was certainly a very frosty one.
The chilling, dreamlike world of winter fog
Of the few photographs that I took on Tuesday evening one was a moderately evocative panoramic view of the Birch Street side of the classic, Googie style Denny’s restaurant on the south side of the 1200 block of West Broadway.
But by far, the most interesting (and curious) photo was of an empty glass and steel bus shelter on the south side of the 13oo block of West Broadway—which still bore the ghostly imprint of people long since departed on some Number 9 Boundary bus.
Whether by residual heat or some other mechanism, the otherwise thickly frosted glass panels forming the back of the empty shelter bore three frost-free silhouettes representing people sitting side by each on the shelter bench.
The unbearably cool lightness of it being foggy
Properly speaking, fog occurs when the air temperature falls within 2.5° Celsius of the dew point and water vapour in the air condenses as tiny liquid droplets and/or ice crystals. It’s just as true though (and much easier) to describe fog as a flightless cloud and be done with it.
Frankly I’d care a lot more about how fog occurs if it meant that I could create it at will—and in wholesale quantities.
Some people are crazy for snow (pluviomaniacs) and there are those who are only happy when it rains (nixomaniacs) and still others who want nothing but warm sunshine (compos mentis).
But, even though it’s cold and clammy and an ever-present danger to all forms of navigation, I love a bit of thick night fog when I can get it.
What attracts me is the dreamlike quality of a foggy night and the way that it sparks my imagination.
Specifically, I love the way that fog turns the darkness into a sort of luminous aether, through which beams of light—as solid to the eye as the beams of a roof—project and sweep like the physical embodiment of the energy rays from the thousand lurid comic book and science fiction pulp magazine covers that I remember from my youth.
While fog does make light more visible, we should all remember that it tends to reduce the visibility of other things, such as pedestrians and cyclists. This is bad and everyone needs to be extra mindful when they’re out roaming in the gloaming and bring lights and wear reflective clothing (which makes for more fun in the fog anyways).
On foggy nights I admittedly also tend to have an extra difficult time seeing the boundary between reality and imagination—which is actually a very good thing, I think. Click the images to enlarge them.