Fun Facts About Fogust That You Didn’t Know
Guest Post by Elena Harper
Summer in San Francisco is not for the faint-hearted. We have months called June Gloom and Fogust, to honor our favorite native son: Karl the Fog. Wrapped in layers, hot beverage in hand, true locals know this is a time of retrospection and reconnection – because it’s too damn cold to do much of anything else. However, what few San Franciscan’s know, is the significance and mystic power of one month in particular: FOGUST.
Legend goes something like this: Before the time of the first settlers, the Ohlone Indians called the hills and sandy dunes of Yerba Buena home. The terra firma upon which the tribes lived were considered scared, with many areas of the marsh lands and rocky hills off limits to all but the Kusku (shamans). It was widely believed that the land, surrounded by water on three sides and comprised of a complex combination of rock and mineral, was a spiritual vortex. Once a year, in the month of August, when the fog encapsulated the land, the spirits would rise and walk among the living.
The tribes would spend the month of August paying homage to these unseen creatures: thanking them for the year’s bounty, asking for strength and protection, and offering them gifts of song, dance and woven crafts. The tribes knew that to appease the spirits meant a year of good fortune and inspiration. Sadly, after the arrival of the Spanish, much of this history and knowledge was lost.
Alas, not all was forsaken, for the land still remembers. The thick plumes of fog still descend upon the city, much like it did hundreds of years ago. And, it is said, that for those seeking love, creative fluidity, clarity and inspiration, August, or rather, FOGUST is the time to ask.
It is no wonder then, that San Francisco and the people in it have played such a vital part in contributing to some of the most important creations in the world. Fogust, casting a spell on the local residents, opens a window to that long forgotten spiritual connection; blessing those fortunate and worthy with wit, creative flow and irresistibility to those around them.
Take for instance, the humble television. In Fogust of 1927, Philo Taylor Farnsworth and his wife, Pem Fransworth, were toiling away in their lab/home at 202 Green Street in Telegraph Hill. Finally, mid-Fogust, the duo were able to successfully transmit images to the Merchants Building blocks away. That September, they debuted what we now know as the television to the public.
It’s also said that in Fogust of 1955, Allen Ginsberg completed HOWL while wistfully staring out the top floor window in Vesuvio.
Then there’s Emperor Norton, who convened with the spirits on a fortuitous Fogust afternoon, and emerged in September a royal.
Herb Caen visited San Francisco in the month of Fogust as a youth, fell madly in love with the city, and became known as the voice of San Francisco.
Cioppino and sourdough bread were both (respectively) invented in the month on Fogust (because what’s better than a hot bowl of chowder and a hunk of sourdough on a cold Fogust day..)
And it’s rumored, the first pair of jeans that Levi Strauss sold, happened to be on a fog swept day in, you guessed it, Fogust.
Of course, these are but a few examples of Fogust’s magical influence on locals. So, next time you find yourself complaining about the cold, or your vitamin D depletion, take a moment to let the cool mist settle upon your face and thank the divine spirits of Fogust for your fortune of living in this enchanted city.
Editors note: All the above may or may not be true. That said, the best part about mythology is that the truth often gets obscured by the fog.