Today, Happy wrote in her online journal about a news item that inspired her to try something different. I have to admit that when I watched the story on TV, I had the identical reaction as our inquisitive hen.
A Washington D.C. area father and daughter made headlines when cleaning up after the last storm. The daughter planted her face in the snow on top of their car and then photographed the impression it left behind. She was amazed in the level of detail her cellphone camera was able to capture. She and her dad shared a few laughs when they repeated the feat several more times. The impromptu 3D portraits were remarkable. They reminded me of sand sculptures, or the image you make by pushing hundreds of little pins up or down in a frame. It seemed so easy; no trick photography or special equipment needed. Who wouldn’t want to give it a try? In my house, the answer was everyone but me and a mischievous chicken. The daughter disclosed that she took the pictures at night with the flash turned on.
Maybe shoving your face into a pile of snow in your yard in New Hampshire is more an indication of having cabin fever than it is artistic license. I’m not quite sure what went wrong, but I certainly wasn’t expecting the results I got.
I found a stretch of undisturbed snow along the path that leads from the front of the house to the back where the chicken yard is located. This isn’t as simple a task as one might think, thanks to a family of dogs and poultry and people with boots. I thought I had a good spot picked out, but I changed my mind. There wasn’t enough volume. It has snowed consistently this winter, but with intermittent melting, the banks were not high enough for me to try this experiment unless I dropped to my knees – a tactic I was not at all keen about, especially at 11:00 at night. Then, I spotted the gas grill on the patio, freshly painted with two and a half inches of the fluffy white stuff. The perfect location! I took off my glasses and without hesitation, plunged my face into the frosty layer of snow which insulated the lid of the stainless steel barbecue. Right away, a migraine formed across my eyebrows; but I persisted. One second, two seconds… The news report failed to mention how long to keep one’s face buried in the snow to achieve optimum results. It was a bit suffocating. I counted in my head until I reached three. After that, I started to black out. I pulled my head away from its icy tomb and instantly peed myself. I didn’t mean to. It was shocking. Only minutes before I was rejecting a snowbank because I didn’t want to get my knees wet. Now my bladder was sobbing for no reason.
As chilling (literally) and disheartening as this was, I didn’t see the sense in going in before the experiment was over. I pulled out my iPhone, flash on as directed, and snapped away. Meanwhile, a brain freeze began to swell above my cheekbones, building in momentum until it crashed somewhere behind my eyeballs. I wobbled until my vision cleared and I could look at the pictures I had taken. Total failure! Two of the shots looked like I had dropped a rock in the middle of a blizzard. The third, (the one I went rogue on by turning off the flash), was a murky shadow. Try as I might, I could not replicate the clever trick I had seen on TV.
You would think this would be enough for one night, but I decided to check on the chickens one last time before heading inside. That’s when I noticed the dog house our rooster uses in summer as a command post, when he’s watching over the girls. Its peaked roof sported a flawless canvas of gleaming snow. I tried it again. I got the same results. I thought all the liquid in my bladder escaped during the first failed attempt. Wrong again. I stood by myself on a frosty January night, thinking I must look like someone on a weekend pass from the Funny Farm. Was this the outdoor equivalent of sticking a sleeping persons hand in a bucket of cold water?
Alas, I didn’t get the pictures I was trying for, but I did prove that ice is the physiological master-key, the code breaker to the brain. Forget waterboarding and fire ants. You want information out of a criminal? Shove his face in a snowbank for a few seconds. After the brain freeze subsides and he’s done peeing himself, he’ll spill every secret he knows. If you do it correctly, you can take his mug shot at the same time. Flash on.
Footnote: I’ll be trying this again tomorrow night, once I figure out what to wear.
Photo Credit: @nelsonjwttg5