Winter Notes Six : MIST

What is it about mist.

It’s a bit magical, don’t you think? It’s a cloud in a place where a cloud shouldn’t be. Not inpenetrable, you can see quite far, yet it changes everything. It renders the familiar unfamiliar, messing with our sense of perspective and place. Am I on the ground, or am I in the sky? I’m sure I used to come up against the gate much sooner than this. In the meadow there, is that a mound of earth, or a dozing animal?

On a misty morning we can see the unlikley sight of a huge building, un-moored, floating above its foundations. Trees, not yet in thier spring leaves are black lace against a white cotton sky. The sun is a shiny copper disc seen through gauzy curtains.


daal’mist which gathers in the valleys overnight and is exhaled when the sun rises (Shetland)

rafty – misty, damply cold (Essex)

haze-fire luminous morning mist through which the dawn sun is shining (poetic)

…from ‘Landmarks’ by Robert MacFarlane (Penguin, 2015)

Hiding and revealing

Féth fíada – in Irish mythology – is a magical mist or veil in Irish mythology, which members of the Tuatha Dé Danann use to hide themselves. This renders their presence invisible to human eyesight.

Hy-Brasil was the island where the legendary Breasal, the High King of the World held his court. A difficult place to find because the island was said to be shrouded in mist, in the Atlantic Ocean, west of Ireland. It could only be seen once every seven years when the mist lifted which was the time when Breasal held his court on the island…

…and let’s not forget Brigadoon (MGM, 1954) a film I love though haven’t seen for years. Lost in the Highlands, American Tommy Allbright (Gene Kelly) stumbles over a bridge into Brigadoon – a village which appears from out of the mist only once every 100 years. There he falls in love with Fiona (Cyd Charisse). Cue boy loses girl, boy gets girl back again, and lots of great dancing. Brigadoon is a magical enough place to be referenced by Mike Scott in ‘The Whole of the Moon‘ 30 years later “I saw the rain dirty valley, you saw Brigadoon” (a masterpiece of a song).

Small droplets of water suspended in air.

A transformation, in rapidly cooling air, from one state to another, gas to water. The invisible visible.

But not too visible, because then we find outselves in fog – an enirely different, more sinister, proposition.

Lets stay in the mist for now, enjoying the change to light and sound, the calming sense of a crisp white sheet over the landscape.

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