An early morning walk took me into a foggy, mysterious world of curious shapes, faint silhouettes and a monochrome, wintry landscape not yet warmed by the rising sun.
In this almost fairytale time just before sunrise, fog adds mystery to the most ordinary edge-of-town landscapes, letting the imagination take flight in the stillness of the countryside.
We’re lucky in the west of Ireland, where, even on the verges of our larger towns like my hometown of Ballina, there is little light pollution.
The dark sky is still visible and we can continue to enjoy a clear distinction between night and day and experience nature’s daily light show of sunrise and sunset as generations before us enjoyed.
On this morning, the skeletal trees were peeping through the hoariness of the fog; twigs and stems looking as friable as intricate filigrees were woven into the hazy vista of shivering pearl-greyness.
In the mid-distance, the trees revealed their true shapes; tangles of tall, wind-tortured branches clawing skywards, wrapped in the emptiness of fog. A spatial blankness was broken only by nature’s shape and form.
Sunbeams thinning the fog revealed the faint, but defining features of this arcadia; a short walk beyond the lights of the town. Farmland, homesteads, bog, and in the distance, towering Nephin’s bare crown rose above the coiling fog.
In this emerging landscape, the low sun’s rays, peeping over the Ox Mountains, began to cast dreamy orange, amber and lemon beams low over the land, gently bringing out the hues of nature we cannot see during daylight.
Its glow warmed clumps of frosty grass and splashed warm yellows onto dreary fence posts.
The nearby town was blocked off by the fog and, in the fleeting quietude, before a noisy world sprang to life, my wanderings disturbed a white horse.
Curious at my unexpected presence, the horse slowly emerged from the misty gloom of a tree-lined hedgerow; the low sun catching the animal in a warm glow.
In a dreamy scene, he stood amid the amber-flecked rushes as proud as its winged mythological ancestor.