The old nursery rhyme that shares its title with this blog goes, if my memory from my childhood serves me correctly:
A misty moisty morning,
When cloudy was the weather,
I met an old man
Dressed all in leather.
And he said
‘How do you do’
And ‘how do you do’
And ‘how do you do’ again.
(I know there are other versions but this is how I remember it).
I found myself thinking about this old nursery rhyme as I walked through the mist this morning. It wasn’t thick like the pea-soup fogs you get sometimes. It was ephemeral, like gauze draped over the landscape, and it made for some stunning views as my walk took me above the cloud layer from which it had formed and I could look down on it in the valley beneath me.
Now I know that mist and its thicker, foggier cousin are nothing more than stratus clouds formed at ground level. They are comprised of exactly the same stuff – tiny droplets of water – that forms the grey, featureless stratus cloud layers higher up. But there is something faintly eerie about walking down a silent, mist-bound country lane in the early morning light, and something hugely satisfying about getting above the mist and being able to look down on it as it blankets the countryside.
Mist features in so many fantasy tales, mysterious legends or mythological stories. People or animals or spirits or goodness knows what else are often described as appearing from the mist or disappearing into the mist. Its ethereal qualities of being both bright and yet opaque, of being easy to travel through yet simultaneously obscuring, make for a splendid backdrop to anything that contains references to the supernatural.
Today I didn’t meet anyone or anything supernatural, not even an old man in leather. The world just sat in muffled greyness, as if waiting for time to restart. It almost felt like everything had paused, somehow. Only the cows happily munching their breakfast in the field gave me any indication of the continuation of time. Perhaps it is this timelessness that lends itself so aptly to spooky stories and magic myths.
I did thoroughly enjoy my misty moisty morning, even though the mist-turned-drizzle made me thoroughly damp. It was pleasant to speculate what storytellers and poets through the ages would have made of it. So perhaps it is fitting that I end this blog with the start of my own mist-bound tale:
“The mist swirled in the grey dampness. A faint hint of a breeze seemed to promise to lift it out of my field of vision but failed miserably and dropped the gauzy blanket over my eyes once more. I plodded cautiously up the muddy, pot-hole ridden track, marking what landmarks I could see and counting the steps left to my destination. It must have been my preoccupation with the journey that enabled it to come upon me unawares, for the first hints I had of something amiss was a sound, a sound with no form attached……”