Stories

Darkness, a lake and thick mud

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Season Wheel Leaf Lantern
I've never made a pumpkin lantern before and I thought it was about time that I did!

So as soon as they hit the shops I was in like Flynn to get myself one with knife and spoon at the ready.

I made a season sun wheel complete with central square and then begun to hollow out my pumpkin. Which to be frank sounds like a euphemism but I assure you that I only had good intentions for the use of my spoon.

Although I was a pumpkin virgin I think I did pretty good!

I wanted to put it on some still water so that I could also capture its reflection so I set off for the lake at the University hoping that the wind was calm enough to give a clear duplicate image.

But as you well know it is never over until the fat pumpkin sings.

Have you ever been up to your knees in gloopy mud? I was wearing wellies of course and they seem to share a specific characteristic. As your feet sink down into the silt there comes a point when you need to turn around and go back the way you came. But the problem is that whilst you turn the whole of your body your feet carry on pointing in the same direction. Normally, at this point, I would expect to rotate my arms like windmills and fall into the water with a splat still with my feet pointing backwards. Fortunately this did not happen. But I did need to see how much I could push it.

So as I trudged out into the water to position the lantern all was fine and dandy. The mud was fairly solid and it took a while to get out far enough so I could position the pumpkin level with the surface of the water. While I did so my feet sank some and I turned into a near windmill and splat which surely would have deserved a 5.9.






I then performed the other compulsory maneouvre for this style of competitive dance which is the welly-pull-suck. Managing to half turn I then started to pull on the most stuck welly with the added bonus of my standing foot now sinking even lower than the first. And just as the suction lets go the momentum tips you over onto your weight bearing foot and this time you go for a one-legged splat with no twists. Fortunately I managed to stay dry this time too.

I went back to the bank and set up my camera but the pumpkin was not level so I had to head out into the black lagoon once again. It was quite dark by this point and I didn't have a torch. I was navigating by pumpkin light only.

The ducks and geese on this lake were not best pleased by my antics and they let me know by some extremely loud quacking. They obviously didn't appreciate the trouble I was having, or perhaps they did and thought it was funny.

I went back out to the lantern but this time the water seemed to be six inches deeper. In the dark I couldn't tell how close it was to the top of my wellies and I guess there was one obvious way I would find out and yet when I got nearer to the lantern it suddenly got quite deep and I had difficulty getting near enough. How did this happen? How did it get so churned up and deep?

I struggled on and despite all the quacking and my best efforts to score
6.0 I remained dry and returned to the bank after several more high scoring maneouvres.

I set up my tripod so it was close to ground in order to protect it as best I could from the breeze. As the exposures would need to be long I would want everything to be still as possible.

But there was a problem. There are a hell of a lot of ducks and geese on this lake, as well as coots and chickens (well there aren't chickens on the lake - who has ever heard of aquatic chickens - but they do live nearby) and when you get so many birds you get a lot of bird poo too. I needed to lay on the ground and peer through the viewfinder but the light of the candle was too far away and I just had to lie down and hope.

It seemed it added up to a full house. I managed to stay dry, free of bird poo and the pictures came out good and sharp. And while I was looking at the lantern on the lake I thought "I love that, it looks really cool!" And it is very nice for an idea to live up to what you imagined, or perhaps even exceed it and it is all the more a thrill when a new idea gives you fuel for many more!

I suspect that if anyone else wants to buy a pumpkin in the Lancaster area in the next few weeksthat you will be behind me in a very long queue!