Into the gray


The fog is an illusion—
A master of disguise,
Which hides the tangible
Before our very eyes.

~Walterrean Salley

In my home state of Oregon, Smith Rock State Park makes the short list of places known for their natural beauty. With its dramatic flair of rock and plants and sky, it attracts tourists, hikers, and rock climbers. It’s volcanic tuft rock manifests in a range of reds, white, and even green, molded into spires, pillars, and blobs. Below the rocky crags ponderosa pine and juniper glades provide a contrast of green and rich habitat for wildlife. And, even though this is the high desert of Oregon, marshes are found near springs and streams.


Rainfall here is rare and thin with less than nine inches annually on average. Fog is even rarer. Yet, the morning following an early October sprinkle, fog envelops the rim rock, gorge, and rocky spires of the State Park. Visibility is limited, and the usual view-sheded of colorful tuft has disappeared in the morning mist. Smaller boulders loom large on the landscape, taking on many-dimensioned personalities in the flat light. Trees are ghosts holding witness to the odd damp start of the day.


The sun rises higher and with each degree it rises, the fog thins: color shifts from cold to warm. Gray becomes gold, gold becomes vibrant. Distant trees start to come into focus.


And then, the fog lifts. The sun celebrates flaring stage lights onto the crags.  Townsend’s Solitaires sing rounds among the juniper. The moment of moving into the gray has passed and I wonder if I’ve just had a dream. IMG_2003