J. S. Eiland
The Fog, Foghat, & Fog In PA
"One describes fog with merely the faintest idea of what one is actually describing."
“My active assumption is the red, white, and blue interstate shield flying by is the speed limit and not the current route.” I say sounding half-crazed as I stare at him from the corner of my eye. My passenger’s concern is rising as he thinks of Interstates 380 and 476! My mind is ablaze with the information my senses keep gathering as I hurtle across middle Pennsylvania. A madman on a mission. “How did this kid come to be lodged in my front seat?” I wonder aloud. Colt has gone completely white. He is hitchhiking in Connecticut and I pick him up. I think he is running away from home. I laugh and turn up Foghat… “Fool for the City/Eight Days on the Road Live at The Belly Up”. It is the wicked rocking guitar work around three and a half minutes in.
As the song ends Colt is silent. All I hear is the wind rushing in through the open windows attempting loudly, though in vane, to permanently fill the vacuum it creates. Inside the car the vacuum seems to suck whatever minute vitality is left in Colt and he faints. Or passes out. “I suppose he could have just fallen asleep.” I say aloud, almost as a test to see if he responds in any way.
I taste a stale residue of the sunflower seeds I have been eating for the last hour. It has slowly overtaken the remnants of the salt. I feel the engine rumbling consistently, happy as it proves its worth mile after extraordinary mile like a champion mudder, unwavering in its determination to finish in record time. I smell the pungent air as it rushes passed my face and ‘tis laden with water and the sweet saccharine smell of some late summer blooms hidden somewhere deep in the mountainous forest surrounding us. Finally, I take a deep breath with my eyes closed to give my mind a chance to receive and recognize all these signals at once. Upon the reopening of my eyes I notice a sort of light brown haze to the horizon westward. It seems to be rising up from just beyond the next ridge, maybe forty miles ahead. “Here we go Bubba.”
My first thought is one of fog and with good reasons, all morning driving through the Poconos I'm seeing patches of fog everywhere. Reasons you ask. Well the truth of the matter is I spent some time pondering whilst Colt slumbered. My monologue, focuses on the fog, begins to take on those tendencies of fog. My vision becomes cloudy, my mind foggy and my intuition shrouded. Some of the fog is thick, thick as thieves, patches enshrouding a bridge in the wee hours of the morning can spell disaster for a weary traveller. So dense and dangerous it seems to two vehicles in front of me in an instant they light their brake lights, it looks like two sets of canine eyes in the dark woods staring out at me. It is pretty surreal with all the fog, everything seems to slow down for a while, life is taking a break. A good ten seconds or more of this feeling. Everything just makes sense and I am right where I need to be, no matter how bizarre.
Other patches of fog are thinner. Again, in these pain-in-the-wee-ass hours of the morning as I descend one ridge in awe of the natural beauty surrounding me. Approaching the bottom of the hill I prepare both myself and my engine to ascend the next ridge, I shake my head violently and stomp the gas. Looming up ahead is this topless beauty! Like a daunting deadline she gazes down on us, dwarfing her daughters all around her. As my focus rotates south, a small mountain town peaks into view. It is nestled cozily in a little valley with the surrounding hills ascending high above and all around it but for the north where it opens its arms to any transient passerby like myself. A petite fog has settled itself into the same valley, softening both the landscape and the town while blurring the edges of both into the vast mountain wilderness. This fog is rich and ripe, maintaining a sort of rolling, an undulation all throughout its course, all along the streets and between the buildings, causing the entire town to look as though it were poised deftly upon the chest of some mighty, slumbering giant as he inhales and exhales slowly. Deliberately. I think of stopping to explore more closely such a mystically enshrouded place, alas I know it is not meant to be. For even as I drive on, glancing occasionally back at the sleepy mountain town, the increasing heat of the morning's sun already has risen enough to begin burning the veil of fog from the hills. Revealing the secret underneath. That secret I know but do not wish to acknowledge. It is regularity, normalcy, typical small town America. So I turn up Foghat and speed away.