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January 30, 2006
We landed at Newark in fog last night, and the ride home was a ride through fog. Fog hangs in the air this morning, filtering my view of the houses and trees just across the street, as if a set designer had dropped a scrim in front of it. This makes the old places look more romantic than usual, softening all their angles and all their colors.

It is as if time had stopped, as if I were looking out my window into a gentler age. Objects seen through fog look like they're in the past. This, I suppose, is because we think the past was lovelier than it really was.

That fact itself is gentle: we cast our hope backwards onto history, and the past grows more hopeful. Maybe, in future, we'll do that about these days we're in now, too -- maybe we'll remember ourselves in a kinder light than the stark one that shows us forth now, so angular, so harsh, so shallow and selfish. Perhaps the present is like the news -- if it bleeds, it leads. And perhaps the past is more complete, gathering together sweetness along with bitterness. In the present, you never know how things will turn out, and how you will manage to live meaningfully through whatever it is. Look at the past and you know what you did -- or, at least, you know what you think you did.

The sun is out now, and it has burned away the fog. Today will be unseasonably warm, I hear: up into the high 50s Fahrenheit! Trees are budding ahead of schedule here; they will get a rude awakening soon, I know, as winter is far from over. But today the sun dapples the same houses the fog misted an hour ago, and they have joined us in the present age. And, although they look different, less hidden, less soft, they have their own direct beauty. One more day begins on our long walk into the future. It looks like it will be a good day.
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