Every morning my dog, Kona, and I go for a walk on Cherry Hill which reaches about 800 feet from our backyard here in Novato, California. I rarely bring a camera, just meandering in the morning to give both of us a bit of exercise.
This morning I did grab my iPhone because it was a tule fog morning
It rained yesterday, and is often the case here in California, fog will form in the morning hugging the moist ground. The word “tule” (pronounced toolie) comes from a Native American word, for Tule reed that grows in low marshy areas where ground, or radiation fog is common on cool mornings.
The photographer’s adage, that the best camera is the one you have with you, was proven true today. There have been other mornings when I began my walk that I retreated to grab my “real” camera but today, realizing the light was changing quickl, we began our walk.
I always stop to ring the temple bell my daughter, Evie, brought us back from Thailand. Kona has learned this is an interruption in her walk; today, still below the fog I sensed we would find once we started going up the hill.
As soon as I got the top of our property I could tell the sweet light was ahead breaking through the thin band of fog. Ahead, our neighbors horse corral was almost exactly at the fog line. I’m guessing here – we had climbed about the first 300 feet of Cherry Hill ?
About this time I realized we had maybe 10 – 20 minutes before the fog would burn off; I was unsure whether I should stay in one place and watch the light unfold or whether I should push on to find even more exquisite scenes. Kona was impatient.
I continued on, into the glowing fog to my favorite tree, a gnarly Blue Oak, Quercus douglasii, that I have photographed many times.
It was beautiful, stately in the mist.
I walked up the hill past the Oak and framed the wet winter grass against the edge of the hill with the tree now behind.
Kona and I pushed on, the fog quite gently hugging the hill.
As we walked upward through the thin layer there was the magic moment, a relatively few seconds when the sun played through the thin fog revealing the light. I felt like I was in a Maxfield Parrish scene.
I don’t think Kona was very interested in the light; but because I had let her off the leash she was quite attentive knowing it was a special moment.
We pushed ahead, now probably 600 feet up the hill to our Novato overlook, a dead stump by the trail where we almost always stop when we come back down the hill, to wonder what is going on in the town below, now below the fog.
We were above the fog and looking back across the hills south towards San Francisco it was drifting through the trees. It was just a set enough layer that it could nestle amongst these gentle hills of North Marin.
We pushed onto the top where the cell phone towers loom and found no fog to the east toward San Pablo Bay or to the south towards Sonoma.
My photography was over – I put the phone in my pocket and we went back down Cherry Hill.