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Volume 1, Issue 1
Spring 2005:

Walking Through Fog

Brian T. Maurer

Cell 2 Soul. 2005 Spring; 1(1):a14

April may be the cruelest month, but here in New England, it's March that moves us from winter snow and cold to spring thaw and balm.

When unexpected warm spring air settles over frozen snow-covered ground, we wake up without warning to morning fog.

"The fog comes on little cat feet." Those words, penned by Carl Sandburg nearly a century ago, still resonate down through the decades. Quietly, unexpectedly, the fog presents itself, obscuring our view, heightening our senses, making us a bit nervous.

Illness, like fog, has a way of intruding unexpectedly in our lives. One minute we are fine human specimens, pictures of health. Then the doctor delivers the diagnosis — the fog rolls in — and we find ourselves disoriented, our world spinning out of kilter.

Some years back, when our Black Labrador retriever still whinnied with us, I took him out for a morning walk along the ridge trail not far from where we live. Snow still lay in patches on the frozen ground.

Out along the path where the ridge dips into a slight saddle, we encountered a fog bank. Without warning it appeared out of nowhere. Suddenly it was just the dog and I alone in the stillness of the forest. Although I knew the trail well, it was rough going over the slippery terrain through the dense fog.

Head raised, the dog paused to sample the mist with his nose. Shortly his ears perked up. Then I heard the noise myself — a hushed steady beating of air, interspersed with an occasional bleating honk.

Suddenly there they were — geese flying swiftly in formation through the grey morning light, not twenty yards above our heads. Seconds later, the fog swallowed them up, leaving behind the brief sound of wings beating in the silence.

The dog and I picked our way over rocky outcroppings to the Flat Rock. Ordinarily it provides a wonderful view of the valley. This morning you could see nothing through the grey denseness that blanketed the landscape.

I stooped to stroke the dog's ears. Panting, he looked up, acknowledging my touch.

Neither of us would be entirely comfortable until we had the house in sight again.

That perhaps is what we desire most when we find ourselves unexpectedly wandering through a fog bank, or shattered by the announcement of an unanticipated diagnosis — a human touch, if nothing more than to reassure us that somehow we will find our way back home.

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