Scotland is surely not the only place in the world where a mist from the sea comes rolling in and blankets everything.
But it does have the distinction of having a word to describe that fine mist, and the word is ‘haar’.
To feel haar on one’s face is like being on the receiving end of spray from one of those fine mist sprayers used for houseplants.
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.
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.
The Concise Dictionary Of Scottish Words And Phrases defines haar as
a cold sea mist which drifts in from the North Sea along the east coast.
So Edinburgh is well placed for haar, looking as it does onto the Firth Of Forth that leads into the North Sea.
Today was a day full of haar, and haar it is:
How To Embrace Haar
The first thing to know is how to pronounce it. The Scots pronounce the ‘r’ at the end of words. So ‘haar’ is not the same as ‘ha’. The ‘aa’ is long and the ‘r’ is pronounced with a rolling sound. Haaaarrrr. Now you’ve got it.
Get out into it. Watching the haar outside on a dark October day makes the world even more miserable. Put on a jacket and walk out into the haar.
As you walk, do not put your head down. Face up to the haar and feel it kiss your cheeks.
A waterproof or woollen jacket is useful for repelling the wet mist. As you walk, look at the beautiful beads of moisture building up on your jacket.
Now you are a truly acclimated to the Scottish weather.