The Fog­geries

Geist - - Literal Literary - TAMMY ARM­STRONG

Many years ago, fog was man­u­fac­tured in long, white fog­geries like D’eon & Sons Fog Distributers and South Shore Weather Pro­ces­sors, Ltd. In those days, the in­dus­try em­ployed en­tire vil­lages, and no one had to col­lect their tool belts and best boots and move out west.

Back then, fog came from the warm breath of shorter an­i­mals as they stood on dewy lawns and along for­est edges. Taller an­i­mals, of course, cre­ated clouds. As the an­i­mals breathed out, some­one would hold a metal box at­tached to a long stick near their mouths. The fog catcher would squeeze a han­dle on the stick, spring­ing the box, and if they were lucky, trap the fog un­awares. It was hard work, with long hours, as many an­i­mals only came out at night.

Af­ter the catch­ers de­liv­ered the fog, the women sorted the boxes. The thick­ness of a fog was largely de­ter­mined by the an­i­mal’s char­ac­ter­is­tics. Dog fog, bel­low­ing from such a big heart, tended to be twitchy in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a good time. Hare fog was thick and thought­ful. It mixed well with finer fogs to cre­ate that can’t-seey­our-hand-in-front-of-your-face ex­pe­ri­ence. Flash fog, the sort that skit­ters quickly across the road, came from chip­munks and squirrels. It was rarer and there­fore more ex­pen­sive to man­u­fac­ture. Deer fog was one of the most dif­fi­cult to col­lect as deer have such keen pe­riph­eral vi­sion. Their fog was light and shad­owy—much like the drifty state be­tween wak­ing and sleep­ing.

In the boom years, the fog­geries ex­ported many, many crates of fog: ground fog, hill fog, val­ley fog, frozen fog, sea smoke, steam fog, pond mist and spe­cialty fogs—sent in col­lectible crates with gold foil wrap. These—less con­stant and apt to change di­rec­tion quickly—were the fogs of poets, creep­ing in on lit­tle cat feet, en­cir­cling a coun­try Christmas party where some­one sang off-key, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, fog.” Other spe­cialty fogs were shipped great dis­tances. Tule fog, for in­stance, went to the San Joaquin Val­ley, where it rolled like warm wax all the way up the Car­quinez Strait, shim­mer­ing and steep­ing San Francisco in a smoky haze. La garua fog—spun into a fine and in­ti­mate mesh—could only live in the present tense. And where the warm Agul­has and cool Benguela ocean cur­rents col­lided, desert fog blan­keted the suc­cu­lent Ka­roo and the Na­maqua­land daisy, break­ing their brief world open with blos­som.

Af­ter some years, how­ever, much of the labour at the fog­geries was out­sourced to coun­tries where wages were lower. In­evitably, the south shore in­dus­try col­lapsed. Their lit­tle fac­tory win­dows were boarded over, and their roofs be­came play­grounds for crows and her­ring gulls. Ev­ery­one still bought fog, but the qual­ity was shoddy, and of­ten there would be a hole right through the mid­dle, where it ought to have been thick­est.

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