Monday, March 17, 2014

Fog and Dreams

Back when I lived in the mountains above Los Angeles, I used to walk Archie, my dog, to the rim just about every day where I could look out over the city, and the dog could pad around, sniffing and exploring, chasing a lizard or squirrel. I loved looking down like that on the city I commuted to every day, but I liked it so much more when the hikes were foggy.

There’s something about walking in fog in the middle of a forest. Someone told me once that one of the effects of playing the didgeridoo is that the player is in a kind of trance dream state. It’s an interesting feeling and a little of what the forest fog walks are like. We’d be out there in the middle of the woods listening to the slow drips of dew, lost in our own world of thought, and then a bear would come ambling by. Neither I nor Archie would be surprised. The bear wouldn’t be either. She’d just move on her way.

There were other things that might have seemed surprising too, cars abandoned where there were no roads, a coyote who thought he was alone and playing with an old rag like a pup, stones stacked as monuments by local kids. Nothing was surprising here, and it felt like everything was as it should be out in the cool, nearly silent morning air.

The only thing that’s ever been comparable is that willing suspension of disbelief when I’m reading. It’s dreamtime same as the didgeridoo, same as fog walks. I love a writer who can drag me out into the fogscape and make me believe that not only do I belong there but so does everything else I’m seeing. Pat Barker’s been taking me back to World War One lately. Bonnie Hearn Hill took me on an adventure the other day.

Even better than that though is when I do it to myself. When I get into that space in my own stories, that’s a magic that I haven’t felt since I was ten years old and my conservative teacher forbid me from reading J. R. R. Tolkien. That was the best gift that person could have ever given to me.


Charles Gramlich said...

I sometimes wish I had the strength to forbid my students from reading certain things. I'd have to come off the villain and wouldn't like that, but it might be the best way to motivate them to read.

Liane Spicer said...

I know whereof you speak, having hiked in thick mist at the top of our highest peak here, Mt. El Tucuche. It was magical and otherworldly, and if I ever attempt that arduous hike again it'll be mainly to relive that experience.

Anonymous said...

I rarely experience fog where I live, but when I do it's eerie and dreamy. It also changes my mood. I'm not sad, but somber and contemplative.

John Brantingham said...

I live down in city now, and I rarely get fog. But I can walk late at night when everyone's asleep and that's it's own magic.