H A A R

haar,

noun

DICTIONARY OF THE SCOTS LANGUAGE

A cold mist or fog, gen. used on the east coast for a sea-mist.

Back in April I shared a story (here) from a foggy walk at John Muir Country Park with the word ‘dreich’, and while yes, this story also has fog, this August walk wasn’t dreich. April’s walk was cold and wet, the air dense with moisture, but this walk was warm, the fog quiet and gentle. So this story is about the fog itself, which we call ‘haar’.

This scene, in the haar, makes me think of a Scandi crime drama. I can imagine Saga Norén walking over this field, towards this deserted caravan, and you know, you just know, that nothing good waits inside.

[The North Sea] being five degrees warmer in summer, than the Atlantic, a copious evaporation takes place, throughout its extent, which produces the eastern haars (as they are called) or thick mists, which are seen, at a certain period of the day, to arise from the sea.

Sir John Sinclair, c, 1814

When we arrived at John Muir Country Park on this Saturday, we weren’t expecting to find this haar. But as were walking through the woods, we could see it ahead, stretching towards us.

And then, so quickly, the mood started to shift, sunlight seeping through the mist.

Walking around in haar is like chasing a phantom. Wherever you are standing seems clear of haar, save for the fine wet spray in your face to tell you it is there.

David Bennett, The Quillards Blog

Listen to the birds… it felt as if the world was coming alive again.

We walked along the top path and back along the beach. Looking out over the bay, you could see the haar returning, tendrils curling through the trees, gently gliding back over the sand towards us. It was beautiful.

Scots Mag, February, 1948

Now and again we could see the scud of the sky along the water down a corridor of the shifting, opening, closing sea-haur. . . . For close on two hours we turned and quested; rowed in this autumn smoke of haar.

The haar seems to be over in the distance, where everything is white and indistinct. But walk to where the haar is and it disappears. Turn around and look back, and the haar seems to be where you just came from.

David Bennett, The Quillards Blog

Saturday 10 August

John Muir Country Park, East Lothian

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