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The Fog in My Head

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When Maxine Rose Schur needs to clear her mind she heads straight for the foggiest part of San Francisco – the Sunset District.

Where I live, in Marin County, the sun shines most of the year and you can see into the next county as clearly as peering in your neighbor’s window. But I am a writer so when I need to dream, I drive to San Francisco and let the fog clear my head.

I drive to where I grew up: the Sunset District. This is where you’ll find long blocks of attached, stucco houses. And here, I love to walk when it’s foggy. Here the fog softens the things you see and the sounds you hear. Sometimes, your view can be completely blocked so that even the houses on the other side of the street can vanish in seconds as if by magician’s smoke.

And yet the fog is cozy.

Within the thick walls of my childhood home, I remember how the fog made our small house seem all the more important by hiding the outside. Beyond the windows the world often just disappeared and this disappearance of things forces you to remember what is there or to assume what is there. This is why the fog is great for dreamers— artists and writers— not only because it shuts out the world, but because it can allow the imagination to surmise, even to conjure.


The Sunset District’s backyard is the Pacific Ocean. Yet, there are no fishermen, no boats, no beach restaurants, no seashell shops, and no boardwalk. Hidden behind sand dunes that are themselves hidden from view by The Great Highway, the sea is a secret. This planned indifference makes the neighborhood for me even more seductive. What a thrill to know that behind the predictable, peaceful rows of houses, roars the largest ocean in the world, wild and unfathomable. Indeed, its gray vastness seems infinite here. Like another sky.

The Sunset District is a remote San Francisco neighborhood. And a place that, by expanding our vision with the grandeur of an ocean, yet limiting it with the mystery of fog, can encourage us to dream.

With a Perspective, I’m Maxine Rose Schur.

Maxine Rose Schur lives in San Rafael and is a travel essayist, children’s book author and writing instructor.

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