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.