Monday, July 30, 2007

The world was covered in fog when I stepped outside this morning. I like fog. It's one of those weather phenomenon that, like snow, makes the familiar into the unfamiliar. In a dense fog, things look indistinct and vaguely unreal somehow. Depending on ones frame of mind, it can be creepy or mysterious or kind of enchanted.
It always puts me in mind of a trip my family made to Fort Mountain when I was eight or nine. We would go there every fall, my parents, my grandparents, my father's brother and his family. See, we owned a Dairy Queen when I was a kid, one of the last surviving Dairy Queens that wasn't a Brazier store. We only sold ice cream, so we were only open seven months out of the year. We would close at the end of every October and open again come spring. And the week after we closed we would always have a picnic on Fort Mountain. The tradition was started a couple of years before I was born, so it was something we did throughout my childhood.
Fort Mountain state park is at the very northern tip of Georgia, almost in Tennessee. As a result, the weather was usually colder than it was back in Canton. Once it snowed while we were driving up and we had to turn back because the roads were getting dangerous. But the year I'm remembering, the weather was cool and damp, and a great bank of white clouds had settled on the mountain. As we drove up the winding road that led to the picnic grounds near the summit, we entered a hazy, white world where visibility was down to a few feet. We had to go slowly, because there were no railings to speak of on the twisty, narrow road and a long drop waited on the right hand side.
When we reached the picnic area, the fog was so dense that we couldn't see the wooden shelter where we usually picnicked, and had to walk carefully along the rocky, uneven ground until we found the shelter. We had brought firewood and my grandfather soon had a huge fire going in the massive stone fireplace that stood at one end of the structure. I always remember coming home from those trips smelling of wood smoke and autumn leaves.
My brother, my cousins, and I played amidst the clouds that day, running and yelling and doing the things kids do and it was somehow more cool than normal because of the eerie, glowing, white mist that covered the world.

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