Flyleaf (verso)

How would you suspend 500,000 pounds of water in the air with no visible means of support?  (Answer: Build a cloud.)

--Bob Miller

White fog in a black night. That's how we remember it.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod.

Those five orange dots? That’s us!

Our friends in the library--you will come to know them soon enough--they had predicted this. 

“Not ‘us.’”  Mr. Sic corrected, “You mean, ‘That is ‘‘we,’’”  he said, peering down his nose, over the rim of his reading glasses.

“Until late in the nineteenth century,” Mister Teakay advised us, “navigators on whaling ships returning from the southern latitudes regarded the mists with ‘impenetrable fear.’” Sailors had referred to the phenomenon as “Latin fogs.” When these caught hold of a ship, the results would be disastrous in ways that they couldn’t even understand.

Mr. Teakay laughed. “Latin Fogs” weren’t Latin, not really. They might be more accurately referred to as “La Bruma,” he said. 

Seafaring Patagonians still refer to them this way, although American whalers often confessed they found that term, “La Bruma,” made things worse. 

“Too witchy,”  wrote Clyde Seymour, in his Account of the Meteorologie with a Focus on Storms, Gales, and Other Hazzards for the Dispatched Mariner, published in 1884. 

“Eighteen-oh-eight,” Mr. Teakay corrected. “from French brume "fog" (14c.). In Old French, "wintertime." From Latin, bruma "winter, winter solstice." Perhaps with an etymological sense "season of the shortest day." You will, of course, recognize that that derives from brevima, contracted from brevissima, superlative of brevis "short."

 

Mr. Sic rolled his eyes at the idea that such a mist had ever dragged a ship down to Davy Jones’ locker. “You can’t kick a null wind,” he sighed. 

Mr. Teakay explained further that bad nutrition probably motivated the accounts of those crews driven “insayne.”

However, Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod.

These disorienting clouds have never been described by science satisfactorily. We don’t know why they drop down when they do. It is generally recognized that the conditions by which La Bruma are generated have less to do with location than with time of day, given that tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Nunc pulvinar sapien et ligula, and Chester, our ferret, always had a way of poking his nose out at exactly the right moment, when navigation had become nearly impossible, and our nerves ullamcorper. Malesuada.

“If you’re looking for true Latin, I might suggest the term ‘doldrums,’ meaning ‘dead horse.’ However, that’s not at all the same thing, not the same thing at all, Mr. Sic had said, “as a null wind.” Elit duis tristique. 

Whose scissors are these?

Sapien faucibus et molestie ac feugiat sed lectus vestibulum.

“Sailing by moonlight is always risky.” Eros in cursus turpis massa, leaving something to the imagination. Oh, Chester! Like a lithe little hotdog, covered in fur. Viverra adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat. Vitae tempus quam pellentesque nec nam aliquam sem et. 

“‘A little rummaging makes certain that a sea-mark is always on land, but thereafter may be well-nigh anything, including the land--even a mountain,’” Stilgoe’s Shallow Water Dictionary tells us (page 14). 

But cloud-gazing from inside of the cloud? That is very different, indeed.

INSERT diagram of La Bruma (detail)

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And mutiny!

“Have you kids been scribbling in my books again?”

Sed elementum tempus egestas sed sed risus pretium quam vulputate, we lied.

Or was it black fog in a white night?

Tincidunt id aliquet risus feugiat. 

Imagine, five children, amet venenatis urna cursus eget nunc, except for a few hand pies, a recipe for soup, and one map of Boston Harbor, scelerisque viverra Stellwagen Bank, like the blank pages at the beginning of a bold mystery.

It may only have been a few hours, but that’s how we remember it. 

And then a hook snagging the cleat on the gunwhale, and the Sea Wren got cinched tight to the tug. 

Posuere urna nec tincidunt praesent. Pea soup. Massa vitae tortor condimentum lacinia quis vel eros donec ac. 

It was a big deal. Our parents absorbed equal parts sympathy and vitriol. They lost friends. They made new ones. “Who allows five children id neque aliquam vestibulum morbi blandit cursus. “Imagine!” 

That’s us, though. We were heroes, for a brief week, in the papers. You can just make out our makeshift parkas in the front-page photo, vibrant orange and yellow and green, emergency ponchos and life vests all duct-taped together, stuffed full of moss and airy leaves, the silver borders varius vel pharetra.

“Let’s get you home,” Mister Teakay said.

Nisi est sit amet facilisis,” we replied, and we couldn't be happier that we did. 

©2019 Kirk Lee Davis