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Gift-Wrapped in Fog

In the middle of September, we had a stretch of warm, sunny, calm days. After a season that was cool and rainy, it was finally summer! The days were so spectacular, they came gift- wrapped each morning in plush white fog tied with streaks of lavender and orange.Gift_Wrapped_Morning

The many foggy mornings revived the memory of my very first fogged-in morning back in 1999. The fog was so thick, I couldn’t see two feet beyond our shoreline. It was if we were wrapped in cotton batting. I thought sounds would be muffled; instead, they were amplified. It was as if my head was inside a steel drum. I could clearly hear sounds from Murray Isle to the north and Thousand Island Park to the east: dogs barking, people talking, radios playing, vacuum cleaners humming. It all sounded close enough to touch, but I knew they were far away across the water.

Foggy_Morning_TreesI heard a boat start up in South Bay and wondered who would dare strike out on a morning when you could barely see beyond the bow of your own boat. It sounded like a small boat with an outboard motor. Perhaps it was a workman who needed to get to a job site. I heard the buzz of the motor grow louder. Then before it reached the foot of Grenell, the motor slowed and went dead. There were a few minutes of eerie silence before a voice called out from the fog, “Ahoy!”

“Ahoy,” I heard my neighbor on Grenell shouted out.

“Ahoy,” a voice from Murray responded. The motor started again and the boat went a short way until it was firmly between Murray and Grenell. Again the boater cut the engine and called out, “Ahoy.” Again the answers from Grenell and Murray. That process continued as the boater navigated via echolocation till he was out of my earshot.Foggy_Alligator

I heard no “ahoys” that wonderful week in September. Instead, ships sang out with mournful fog horns every minute. Sometimes it was clear the ship was anchored at the foot of Round Island because the sound did not move, but most mornings I could follow the progress of the ship by the movement of its fog horn as it slipped either up or down the Seaway.

Luckily, we didn’t need to be anywhere on those foggy mornings. Husband Gary remembers crossing in fog decades ago because he had a flight to catch. His father navigated by compass. Always the one to be prepared, my father-in-law had a list of compass readings at waypoints taped to his dashboard to allow him to make the trip from our point to Chalks Marina in Fishers Landing in poor visibility.

Earlier in the season, we took our kids to the landing as they had a flight to catch. It was a bright, clear early morning on the trip over, but a fog bank rolled in from the New York mainland as we were unloading.Sentinel on watch

Thankfully, we have GPS which shows the route. Gary proceeded slowly with his eye on the GPS, while I searched the fog for obstacles. I was going to suggest that we cut the engine when we got to the channel and listen, but before we got to the channel I saw something in the cloud bank. I told Gary to slow down because I wasn’t sure what it was. It took a second to figure out what I was seeing. It was the bow of a ship headed down river. Just after I said the words---It’s a ship!—the captain blew his fog horn. So glad I saw it before he blew that horn, or I might have had a heart attack.Lynns_Rum_Rock_Morning

Foggy mornings have their own special charm. The fog is hypnotic to watch as it rolls in over the top of islands. Sometimes it just slinks through the channel, keeping low to the water. But the best part is how it glows as the sun grows brighter, then like a shimmering curtain in the limelights, the fog parts revealing a picture perfect River Day.

To many, fog is just a nuisance, but on the island, it is just another of Mother Nature’s spectacular wonders to behold.

Author’s Note: Special thanks to Larry Asam for sharing his beautiful pictures of our foggy mornings.

by Lynn E. McElfresh

September signals the end of summer and with it comes foggy morningns and those with an imagination can look at them it in a whole new way.  This marks Lynn’s 106th.article. Yes, you read that correctly - 106!  You can see all of Lynn’s articles here. (We celebrated her #80 in July, 2015!)

  • R_RiverFog-2


  • Wintergreen Island wrapped in a fog. Photo by L. McElfresh

    Wintergreen Island wrapped in a fog. Photo by L. McElfresh

  • Fog at sunrise.

    Fog at sunrise.

  • As the fog lifts

    As the fog lifts

  • Hub Island surrounded by sunrise fog.

    Hub Island surrounded by sunrise fog.

  • Fog wrapped Rock Island and Castle Francis

    Fog wrapped Rock Island and Castle Francis


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