It's the morning before New Year's Eve, and Leila and I awake to an unannounced guest in our neighbourhood. We've seen her before - she manages to visit a few times a year, never announced, and she's always very quiet. But unlike her majestic and beautiful sisters, Cumulus and Cirrus, whose sheep-like coats proudly billow high in front of the sun, this guest is of a different nature. It's as if she's lost her way - wandering with no destination in mind. She lacks form, has no height, has no splendid contours, offers no rainbows, projects no thunderous authority, and lacks a vocabulary to distinguish herself from the rest of her family. Fog can only be, well...fog.
So as a black sheep does, she disrespects boundaries. She hovers, she sinks, she uses the path of least resistance to intrude, she spreads, and she makes her presence known in her own way. Her misty tentacles ebb and flow indiscriminately into each alleyway, between the red brick English houses of our neighbourhood, and in front of the church a few blocks away. She has arrived. And before we realise it, our neighbourhood view has taken on the appearance of a milky watercolour painting. With the temperature at 2 degrees this morning, the tentacles of our guest has now traversed the outer walls of the flat and into our own bodies - past the border security of our skins, through our lungs, and deep into the marrows of our bones. Now she's really arrived.
Like snow, fog is beautiful to me because of its power to take things away - reduction of clutter, excess, and noise to distil something to its most purest essence. A view you've seen a hundred times over, refreshed as a clean palette. The quiet of snowfall, offset with the crunching of your boot. The lack of seeing, that actually allows you to see something for the first time.
Leila and I decide to take a walk in the Heath amidst the morning fog. I pick up Beta's collar and find her lead. Without fail, she comes running down the stairs - with her oversized tongue and dilated eyes. I always admire the simplicity and purity of her desires. Love, food, and adventure. Nothing more. Nothing less. Lately, we're starting to see small signs of her ageing, but are comforted by the fact that her soul has never changed - her same positive soul from the beginning.
We walk through the Heath, take photos, and talk about the year that was and the year that will be. We tend to follow the same route within the Heath. With nature always changing, the same path never gets old.
We follow the mist, turn a corner, and come across a large tree. The tree's capillaries reach upwards and whisk the fog as it dances within its branches. The tree is impressively designed - its branches spread, split, and multiply by the path of least resistance. And yet, despite its scale, nature never feels cluttered. It's undeniably the most beautifully-designed operating system there is.
"Nature, not necessity, is the mother of all invention."
The tentacles of our guest have really reached deep within our bodies. Leila, Beta, and I decide to make our way home. Our neighbourhood guest stays for a few more hours, before departing just as quietly as she came.
It's the start of a new year and I'm looking forward to less and more visibility ahead.