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Foggy notions

Published January 18. 2014 09:00AM

I often get foggy notions while driving.

It was an extremely foggy morning on Wednesday. It was as thick as pea soup, whatever that means. It got me wondering ... what is fog?

Fog is defined as a cloud touching the ground. Fog or ground clouds are made of millions of tiny droplets of water floating in the air. It generally forms when the relative humidity reaches 100% at ground level. It is most likely to occur at night or near dawn when the temperature of the day is normally at it's lowest. (And makes driving very difficult.)

When the cool ground air forms fog and dew as the air cools, water vapors condense into tiny droplets of water. Fog is typically thicker in low places as the heavy air flows downward. It can also form over cold, snow-covered ground as warmer air moves in. It forms often near creeks, waterways and river valleys as the water increases the humidity in the air.

Fog is most likely to occur when the dew point level is very near the current temperature reading, being no more than 5 degrees F. in difference. It evaporates after sunrise as the sun warms the fog from the top down. The thicker the fog, the longer it takes to dissipate.

Don't you think we've had a lot of fog lately?

Here's some fog trivia for you.

The foggiest area in the United States is Point Reyes, Calif. It is in the top two foggiest land areas in the world with over 200 days of fog a year.

Here are some foggy proverbs (simple sayings that describes a basic rule of conduct.)

A low fog leaves good weather. (Sicilian proverb)

For every fog in March there's a frost in May. (English) (I'm going to keep track of that this year and see if it's true!)

Love is like fog there is no mountain on which it does not rest. (Hawaiian)

Men haven't got the foggiest notion about women. (Linda)

Sometimes we use the word "fog" to express something, like, "The moisture 'fogged' up the windshield. Or, "The mirror 'fogged' over and I couldn't see to shave."

Did you know that you can determine if someone is breathing or not by holding a mirror up to their nose? I did that to my grandmother once.

My grandmother was deaf and wore two hearing aids. You could have driven a Mack truck into her livingroom and she probably won't have heard it. We would do things to her like sneaking up on her and surprising her.

I had read about breathing on a mirror to determine if someone was breathing. I wanted to see if it was true. One day I came into Mammy's house and found her sleeping in her rocking chair. I went upstairs and found a mirror. Then I held it at her open mouth and sure enough she fogged it up. She never woke up and I left her sleeping peacefully and never told her what I did.

Besides the poem "Roses are red," the only other poem I've ever memorized is this one by Carl Sandburg, author and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner.

"The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on."

How about this? "Linda always seems to be in a fog."


A couple of weeks ago, I was driving on Weir Mountain Road. There is a long stretch that is open fields. Harry has me accustomed to looking for wildlife. We've often seen turkeys, deer and hawks in the area. One time we watched a mother bear with three very young cubs cross the field and then the road. Way cool!

This day, I spied something stark white in one of the trees that hadn't been there just a few days before. Then I noticed a smaller white form a few trees from the first. My first thought was, white plastic bags had drifted and got caught in the trees. But something made me slow down and finally come to a stop. Even at a distance, I could tell they weren't plastic bags.

"Snowy owls," I whispered aloud, in awe.

A few years ago, I learned that snowy owls are not common to our area. They live mostly in the Artic and feed on lemmings. It is one of North America's largest owls, about two feet tall and weighs about four pounds.

But a snowy owl had spent a few days in the field where the new Kinsley's ShopRite is in Brodheadsville and was featured in a local newspaper. I got to see it twice. Once in flight (incredible sight!) and once as it was perched.

Was it here again, I wondered? I would have loved to sit and watch but I had to drive on to an assignment.

A few days later, an article with pictures appeared in a newspaper of a snowy owl at the Hazleton airport.

"I'd bet a million dollars I saw two," I thought.

I read about how there is a snowy owl irruption this year. According to the article, snowy owls make unpredictable invasions south from time to time (irruption). Scientists believe it's because of one or two reasons food and babies. Either their food source has dwindled or they had such a good breeding last year that the food source could not sustain the higher population. The article also said that while small irruptions occur every few years, once or twice in a lifetime, a mega-irruption happens and this winter seems to be one of those times.

If you see one, count yourself among the lucky. Who knows when you may ever see another in the wild?


So what connection is there between fog and snowy owls?

I haven't the foggiest idea. Just thought I'd share a couple of my latest car observations.

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