Freezing Fog, Pogonip, & Clarity

tree in freezing fog landscape



The view out our window on Friday morning looked like we were inhabiting a Loreena Mckennit song.  Even as the weather app was assuring us there was no precipitation in Denver, we walked out into air that was wet, thick, and cold. Grey mist hung in the air and a crystalline film enveloped trees and grass. Freezing fog – that’s  what the radio announcer called it and I thought he had made up the term.

It sounded funny to me. But freezing fog, or pogonip (1) is really a thing. It happens when super-cooled water droplets stay suspended in the fog  in liquid form until they come in contact with any surface, and then promptly freeze onto it. (2)  Freezing fog creates a kind of sparkling wonderland and it inspired this week’s mindfulness focus – clarity.

The transition from dense fog to crystals seems a perfect analogy for clarity.  Water droplets are there in the fog, but we can’t see them. In fact, it is difficult to see anything through the mist. But then suddenly when the suspended frozen particles touch a surface…a railing, a rose bush, blades of grass…they show up in all their shimmering beauty.

It reminds me of times when I am wishing for clarity but I look out and everything feels fuzzy, foggy, and muddled.  I might have a sense that the answer is out there somewhere, just as we have a sense that the air is moist.  But clarity, like ice crystals happens in particular situations and with its own timing. It takes a surface for the crystals to materialize and I think a similar process happens when we have an insight or reach clarity about a situation.  If we are trying hard to see through the fog, we might just get frustrated.  Instead we can choose to cultivate appreciation for the mystery and beauty of the fog.  We can simultaneously allow space for an answer to present itself.

The mindfulness focus this week is on clarity, but not simply the end point of reaching clarity. It’s about intentionally being present to the process, accepting the fog and knowing that the answer will come to us.

cat in freezing fog landscape




For more information about weekly mindfulness focus words click here. 


(1) Freezing Fog is also know as pogonip, a Shoshone word for dense winter fog containing ice particles.

(2) What is Freezing Fog, by Laura Moss

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