06 December 2009


I'm not referring to real, actual fog. That's something I haven't seen since moving to Wyoming. I hear that it exists in this state, sometimes even densely enough to warrant a warning for road safety, but it's not here. There is only one forecast for the state it seems, for everything that isn't tucked into a corner so far it's nearly another state. Yellowstone creates its own weather. The rest of us share one report, though the state is as big as three or four other states (or more, but let's go with averages along the mid-Atlantic).

No, the fog I'm talking about is much more localized. You know, the kind in your head and behind your eyes. We've reached the end of the semester, and it's its usual, exhausting self. Add in the first proper cold of the winter (both the rhinovirus and a cold snap that is going to keep us in the single digits for the better part of a week) and a kind of dry my body doesn't understand, and there you have the thick, gray curtain of hazard. There is grading to do, and it will get done, but the pace is glacial. There is not enough liquid in this world to keep my throat from seeming to crack.

I know what I have to do. I have to buckle down and buy a dehumidifier. It's not that hard, it's not that expensive, and most everyone I know in this state has one. "You have to," I'm told. And it's not that I don't believe people, and it's not that I don't notice how much better I feel just out of the shower, when there is a protective cloud of steam that seems to ease the spiny air. It's that I am from the shaded, misty bones of the Appalachians. I have never lived in a house that didn't have a dehumidifier. Both the house I grew up in and the house I left in New York were damp and dark enough to grow mushrooms in the livingroom if one were so inclined. One had a dehumidifier that had a large plastic tank that my dad emptied nearly every day. The other ran nearly constantly, and there was a hose connecting its tank to a sump pump in the basement. To consider now purchasing a machine to deliberately wet the air makes my brain ache. Also, perhaps I've already grown a western stubbornness: it bothers me to understand that my body cannot take this climate. My fingers crack and my lips chap and my skin feels like the dust in my throat. I don't want to change my environment. I want to adapt to it. But I can't last for eons while my skin changes how it responds to water, while it learns to absorb moisture wherever it encounters it. I need to respond to students and can't wait while these soft tissues grow more dense hair to protect them, bison-like, or until they scale and harden to a lizard's imperviousness.

I have to go to the store, and I do not want to do it.