Living on the Mornington Peninsula, in south-eastern Victoria, Winter can descend upon us mortals in varying degrees of coldness, none of which I am particularly fond of. Non-the-less, as part of my life-philosophy I do my best to find the good in each and every situation I find myself in; the cold and dampness of Winter not withstanding. In a complete about-face, today I found myself embracing my least favourite time of the year, as my little piece of the wild was shrouded in a thick white fog that completely transformed it into a mystical wonderland.
My usual walk through the forest woodland at Arthurs Seat has been my mainstay this Winter, due to a combination of being busy at work, and limited by unfavourable weather conditions on my days off that have not encouraged me to venture further afield. Mostly, I have donned the wet-weather gear regardless, waterproofed my day-pack and endured temperatures below 5 degrees to get my dose of the wild. This has enabled me to merrily slosh my way through the wet, soggy conditions that nature has provided at this time of year, reasonably unscathed.
Despite my attempts to weatherproof myself, my camera is usually not up for the riggers of wet weather conditions, and opts to stay home where it’s warm and dry. Can’t say I blame it. The day before I took these photos it was equally foggy, but also raining for most of my walk, which had me somewhat frustrated as I was capturing photo after photo in my minds eye, instead of with the camera.
So I was extremely happy today when I observed a huge blanket of fog suspended above the summit of Arthurs Seat, and it wasn’t raining! I grabbed my camera and almost ran to the trail-head, so eager was I to start snapping away at the amazing scenery laid out before me. It was a while before I managed to slow myself down to a reasonable pace so that I could appreciate just how magical every vista appeared as it was shrouded into varying shades of grey and green.
Gone were the rich velvety greens in every shade from dark to light. Blacks and browns were mellowed into grey and greyer. Trees loomed tall and sinister along the track verge as I descended into the depths of the forest woodland. They seemed to huddle together as though in some sort of conspiracy, and as the light did its best to penetrate through the overhead canopy, their trunks appeared dense and dark, broody even, as they were backlit against the whiteness of the fog.
And as I walked I pondered the symbolism of fog. I wondered what it was about a misty landscape that managed to captivate me every step of the way. Was it just the romantic beauty that a soft-focus effect provides on an otherwise ‘standard’ view? Much like the way a photographer could manipulate a standard image on Photoshop to produce a special effect that would evoke a particular emotion from the viewer. Well, to some extent it was that, but I felt the reason was more significant given that it was a completely natural phenomenon that was being played out in real time, and real life.
Despite having walked this trail a hundred times or more, because of the low visibility due to the fog, I felt like I was walking on a track that I had never been on before. I felt as though I was heading into the unknown, and because of this, I realised that the presence of the fog had significantly heightened my sense of adventure. I was, in a sense, exploring a new land, the depths of which I was walking into, I could not even see.
But while the landscape may have been partially hidden, I felt as though something else had been revealed. It was as though a presence that is normally not seen, was itself being made visible in the form of this white fog that floated magically through the forest like a finely woven veil of silk. And of course, I realised that the fog itself symbolised the presence of the spiritual realm, which, when unleashed in this beautiful and natural environment felt as though it had emanated from the very source of creation.
Not every creature in the wild seemed as in awe of the foggy conditions as I was though. As I wound my way up to the grassy plateau, small patches of sun were breaking through the fog, and it was business as usual for the kangaroos…
Although I have taken hundreds of photos in this section of Arthurs Seat State Park, with my camera at the ready I couldn’t help but take a few more shots of things that grabbed my attention. Gone in an instant was the self-imposed ban on adding more images to the already over-loaded hard-drive. Tree trunks were on the agenda today….
The colours and textures of the bark and lichen seem so much more intense in the light of Winter.
Things that don’t always catch my eye in other seasons were on display today, perhaps because my eyes were viewing things in such a different way because of the magical fog.
By the time I had returned to the start of the track, at Seawinds Gardens the fog had begun to lift a little, and yes, there was a little more clarity, both within and without.