As you might remember, I recently started my own online literary magazine called DarkWinter Lit. It’s going really well, and I’m getting some incredibly good submissions, but one of the things I’m really proud of is that 99% of the images that I use to accompany each piece are original, chosen for each unique story or poem—either taken by me or Ken. I’m fortunate that I work in an antique market, where I can easily find fur coats, weird statues, and driftwood horses. Sometimes though, I need to create a specific scene that I have in mind. And last week was one of those times:
Me: I need a picture of a gold coin covered in water, with a backdrop of fire.
Ken: I don’t have anything like that.
Me: I thought you were a PHOTOGRAPHER, KEN. Do you at least have a butterfly I can use for something else?
Ken: Ooh, yes, I have lots of those!
So it was up to me to create the photo that I needed, at least for that particular story. But then it struck me—we have a burn pit in the side yard surrounded by rocks and it was full of wood. I could prop a loonie (the golden Canadian equivalent of a dollar) on one of the rocks, start a small fire, then spray it all down with water before things got out of hand. It was a terrific plan…
I brought the loonie, some newspaper, and a bbq lighter out with me, and placed the loonie in what seemed like a great position. I crumpled up the newspaper and held the lighter to it. It immediately caught fire but then started to go out, so I tossed some dead grass in there for good measure. I sat back on the dry lawn (we hadn’t had rain for weeks) and contemplated the sad state of the gardens, suffering from lack of moisture as well. When did we last have rain? I thought to myself. It seemed like it was a while ago.
Suddenly, the grass, paper, and the dry wood in the fire pit all ignited at once and I quickly found myself seated next to a raging inferno. Where the f*ck is the hose??!! I screamed silently, berating myself for having forgotten an essential part of the plan. I ran to the porch, the flames getting higher and closer to the dry lawn, and I dragged the hose over to the burn pit.
Do you know what happens when you spray a large fire with a large amount of water? It creates an even larger cloud of thick smoke, a cloud that drifts over your entire neighbourhood, terrorizing your neighbours, at least one of whom belongs to the volunteer fire department. And at this point, Ken poked his head out the door:
Ken: What are you trying to do—set the neighbourhood on fire?
Me: I just wanted a photograph of a gold coin drenched in water in front of a backdrop of fire!
Ken: Did you at least get the shot?
Me: It’s a little smoky but yes.
Ken: Well, that’s one thing. I’m sure the fire department will take it into consideration when they hand you the fine.
I managed to extinguish everything eventually, thanking the universe for the fact that our burn pit is hidden by trees and the guy who kept driving by looking for the source of the smoke couldn’t see it. But imagine the conversation:
Firefighter: So let me get this straight. You set your lawn on fire because you were (checks notes) “trying to get a photograph of a wet coin in front of a large flame”?
Me (whispers): Yes.
Firefighter: And you thought this was a good idea in a month where we’ve had very little rain?
Me (whispers): Yes.
Firefighter: Wow. You’re dumb.
Me (hangs head and whispers): I know.
The things we do for our art.
In other news, you may recall that recently, I got my license renewed and faced a barrage of disturbing questions about having my skin flayed off for science right before having my photograph taken. Well, the license arrived in the mail yesterday, and here’s the reaction on my face:
Now, you may think that’s just the way I always look in driver’s license photos, but here are other examples from 2007 and 2016:
I think it’s pretty clear that I won’t be getting any speeding tickets until 2027 when I no longer look like I’ve seen horrors that no sane person can contemplate … And the worst thing is that, along with the license, there was a questionnaire asking me the same questions that the woman at the license place had asked me PUBLICLY. I could have done all of that IN PRIVATE. And looked prettier in my photo.