Did you know that the San Francisco fog is on Twitter and Instagram?
The fog’s name is Karl. Karl crashes picnics and makes it hard to get out of bed. Karl envelops the west side of the city in a blanket that ebbs and flows like the sea that helps create it. Karl brings out the fog horns, mysterious and deep.
For anyone who says San Francisco doesn’t have seasons, hasn’t lived here in June, to see the approaching marine layer washing in with the tides, to wake up in a world enshrouded in gray. Whoever coined the term “June Gloom” to describe the moving in of Karl to our city I don’t think lived here. They certainly didn’t live out here on the beach, marveling in the magic the fog brings, the muffled quiet, the dynamic rising and falling and dissipating over hills, the imaginary line at Divisadero that acts to repel the fog and keep the east side of the city relatively sunny.
This is the season of fog. It’s eerie and moody, and there are days it can get into your bones. It’s easy to misinterpret as melancholy or morose. I like to see it as living in a cloud, in a dream, where things seem to move more slowly and are fuzzy around the edges. It can be hard to go about daily life inside of a cloud. Instead, I crave quilts and tea, piles of books, and a notebook and pen. I introspect, I slow down, I dream.
If I compare this version of myself to she who keeps a schedule and has a lot to do and “has to” get things done, I could easily start judging this foggy self as lazy, depressed, something wrong. I could try to fight her, to deny her existence, to insist upon going about life as usual. Instead of welcoming the fog and watching it dance off the water and off rooftops, swirling among the trees, I could curse it and dream of “better” sunnier days and miss the magic within the fog.
I write this on a lovely sunny day, with a breeze that is promising to turn into wind by later in the day. From my window earlier, I could see a flock of birds diving into the waves, and sure enough they were joined in their feeding frenzy by a few whales. Fisherman stood in a row along the shore, also trying their luck.
The fog for me today is internal. It feels like I’ve been navigating through the mist since last week, since I got back from my retreat. I could curse this fog and wonder what’s wrong with me, why such an amazing and powerful weekend could create the conditions for fog within. I did at first, probably because it was unexpected. Wasn’t I supposed to feel rejuvenated and motivated and inspired?
I’m trying to sit with the fog, in the fog. What is it telling me? What are the conditions that are mixing to create it?
I don’t know if I can explain it, but it’s not depression. Depression doesn’t feel like fog. Depression feels like a weight, like a monster, like a wall, and it feels very permanent.
This fog feels lighter, in a way. Even though it’s making it hard to see clearly, it somehow feels safe, like I’m being protected from doing too much, taking too much on. It requires me to slow down, take smaller steps, not look too far ahead. It causes me to evaluate each step, to be careful and deliberate. It’s helping me ponder and think in a way that doesn’t create buzz and chatter in my brain.
I still don’t know, exactly, what conditions created this fog in my brain. And maybe that’s ok. Because I could explain fog by the scientific explanation of marine layers and thermals and wind patterns, the conditions that create it. But that doesn’t tell you anything about what it’s like to be in it, to watch it, to feel it, to understand that it has a personality. The fog is proof that there is still room for mystery and magic even in temperate climates without “seasons.”