Late October morning in Oklahoma, quiet and cool, I could see the fog covering the backyard, and the neighbor’s house across the street. I wanted to get out in it before the sun got too high and burned it all off. I poured coffee into a plastic mug with a lid, put on some clothes, and swallowed ibuprofen for a sore toe. On a hike the week prior, up on Turkey Mountain, the toe rammed into a massive rock embedded in a downhill path and hurt like hell. But it didn’t really bother me until it sent me limping the following Saturday, during the last quarter of my twelve hour shift, where I walk a massive clothing warehouse all day, stocking and picking items in preparation the annual winter solstice shopping orgy.
I strapped the dog in her harness and leash, and walked her out the door with my coffee steaming into the fog around us.
“It’s so quiet,” I said aloud as we walked down the driveway, as though the fog itself made everything silent. Even the large white dog who came out to guard his territory when we passed barked deeply and softly at us. Even my dog, aggressive toward other dogs, paid him no mind. A little sedan went by, late model though quiet as an electric car. Even on the main road the cars going ran softly, like the fog made everything, man, animal, machine, behave as though in church, whispering and genuflecting in awe of its mystery.
I imagined this place when it was still wild prairie, and the view looking South to the bottom of the hill toward 31st Street, and the hill lifting back up to the little college campus. I craved a wider view of the fog, so I made the fairgrounds our destination, with its vast flat parking lot. There, greeted by the Golden Driller, the fog complementing him, he became a mythical giant from a weirder, older fairy tale than the 20th century one he was constructed for.
There was an Arabian horse show going on at the fairgrounds in the massive expo center. We passed the big open doors. They had filled the place with dirt, and an announcer was speaking over the PA, in a tinny, country voice spoken through the nose, immediately recognizable as a horse racing announcer voice.
We cut across the back of the expo center into the vast foggy parking lot, the old fairground buildings eaten in the fog, looking like mystical palaces. The dog sniffed spots of horseshit as I yanked her gently away from it. Pickup trucks parked everywhere, and even in the busy lot, the fog continued to maintain a quietness in everything. Trails of dirt and mulch across the parking lot from the barns toward the northern end of the fairgrounds where the horses were being housed to the expo center where they were being shown.
We walked over the first trail and kept on toward the second. The dog spotted an old hat left in a parking space, dirty and worn with some sort of horse logo on the front. I let her sniffed it but pulled her to keep going.
We approached the second dirt path. A man and woman guided a horse over the dirt path. A brown horse, finely groomed, wearing purple garments and mask. The dog tensed and stopped and her ears perked up. She’d never seen a horse so close. I stalled her at about 50 yards so she wouldn’t get close and disturb the beast, a pampered show horse. She was about as blown away as though seeing an alien. But she didn’t bark. The the fog kept her quiet.
She couldn’t help but sniff around the dirt path at the hoof prints as we headed on into the foggy parking lot full of pickup trucks, and back around the expo center, again toward the golden giant.