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Mack Williams: ‘Mist-glow’


Mack Williams

When I started back home the other night after visiting in Yanceyville, it was already after 11 p.m.; but I had no self conceit about my car becoming a pumpkin if the “witching hour” arrived (besides, how much worse of a “pumpkin-thing” can happen to a 2000 Alero with 230,000 miles on it).

Fog was beginning to rise from the waters of a nearby, seemingly Winter-dead pond, as well as from the rain-soaked ground all the way to the horizon (which seemed to be getting closer via fog each moment).

Going down the highway, I looked over to the other lane and saw fog seeming to travel along with me, not knowing it was “driving” on the wrong side of the road. But at least, any oncoming, head-on “collision” with it wouldn’t prove fatal (as long as the driver stuck to “low beam”).

I reached the city of Danville’s outskirts, with its overhead streetlamps on metal poles. The shape of those lamps and the graceful, slight bend in their streetward supports always remind me of the “business end” of those invading Martian machines in “The War of the Worlds”(1951). But these city beams are helpful, being much less laser-like. The whole effect is lost anyway in places where the city crews have forgotten to change the bulbs (there are some streets where lack of attention to street lamp bulb maintenance mimics power outage).

The mist of the fog combined with the downcast light to create a ruse of ghostly, “light pyramids,” or “light-cones.”

I also thought of lights hung above the theatrical stage. But the width of each cone’s base was only large enough to hold a few thespians, as if a playwright were giving the audience a brief “aside.”

By contrast with the surrounding darkness, each cone of mist and light seemed almost as solid as the basic art forms of cone, cube, square, rectangle, triangle, and circle pictured in the old Jon Gnagy “Learn to Draw Kit,” (familiar to those kids of the 1950s still with us).

By the time I reached home, the fog which seemed to have been traveling along beside me (on the wrong side of the road) reached my driveway the same time as I.

I exited my car, and as I walked toward the door, my flashlight and I “excavated” a tunnel of light through the fog to it. My flashlight is one of those “super” kind, with settings for “bright,” “dim,” “strobe,” and “SOS” (but neither the fog nor my vision was so bad as to require that last setting).

A neighbor who always turns on her back porch light to keep check when snow is forecast, had now switched on that light on to keep check on the fog.

Back inside, the rooms’ indoor lighting seeped into every welcoming crevice of wall, ceiling, and floor, standing alone no more as its own semi-solid “mist-glow” shape.

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