When I woke up last Sunday, our thermometer read ten degrees below zero. Anyone who reads Middle Passages knows that for day-to-day living, I strongly prefer hot weather. But there’s one reason I’ll cope with negative numbers, and that's the sea smoke that forms when very cold air hovers above warmer water. It’s kind of like steam over a hot bath or a hot drink, and I’d never heard of it before living by the ocean. Some people call it frost smoke, or steam fog, and I suppose those names are apt when it occurs over the pond down the street on the first real cold day of Fall. But last week, it was all about the sea.
Knowing the weather prediction, I actually gave thought to getting up at sunrise on Sunday to take pictures by the water, but when dawn arrived, I thought, who am I kidding? I well remember my frozen fingers when I did that one January morning last year, and that day (you can read about here), it was eight degrees above zero. Still, later in the morning, when my husband headed out to do errands, I hemmed and hawed about going with him, thinking we’d take a trip by the beach. Even then I talked myself out of it. “The sun’s high. It’s too late. Any sea smoke will be gone.” Lucky for me, he took a swing by the water, and called me. “You need to get down here.”
Pulling on long-johns and jeans and zipping into my down jacket, I headed out. I wish I could explain the mystique of sea smoke as it wafts over the ocean. What are the right words? Ghostly? Ethereal? Haunting? On days like this I long for one of those foot-long camera lenses and the education and skill to take professional photos. But I am who I am and I get what I get. At least I have an eye. And this time, chattering teeth that were well worth the experience.