PLAYING IN MUD
PLAYING IN MUD
We’re in the dog days of summer, when that mysterious star, Sirius, rises somewhere on the horizon.
Take a hike, Sirius.
Most everyone feels sluggish and irritable during these sticky mid-summer days. There are some, I hear, who come alive while sweating but as for me, I’m looking forward to the crisp days of autumn, even though those crisp days herald the cold of winter.
So, I was tending toward feeling heavy, hot and brain dead one late afternoon when I came home from a challenging couple of hours playing Mah Jongg. I found my son making a giant mud puddle in the backyard. My backyard is big enough that a swamp of mud the proportions of a grave site would not be readily seen, but I wasn’t ticked but rather intrigued; what the heck? I said to myself.
“What the heck, Whitt? You’ll have all the warthogs and hippos here by morning, wallowing, trying to get cool.”
He had a lot of sound equipment hovering near the muck which I hadn’t noticed at first. My son is not five years old, the typical period of a muddler, he’s going on thirty-five, a reasonable age for a film-maker. He’s a man of few words. “Did you win?” he asked.
“I did pretty well, considering the heat. What’s up?”
He showed me a list of sounds he needed for his film: a cartwheel rolling through muck, boots walking through sucky mud. Sounds of water; water being drunk, being splashed, drifting through my fingers, splashing from a basin, and being poured from a pitcher into various metal containers, and etc.
I became a trekker through mud. I became the gofer, looking through my kitchen for all the different vessels that made water not taste better but sound better. I became a Gunga Din and manned the hose when the mud was not viscose enough, stopped the flow when the mud overflowed its banks. I gulped water and sipped water, sloshed it and stirred it. I pushed start and stop buttons when Whitt became too mud encrusted to touch his equipment, and I listened through headphones to mucky, yucky sucky sounds inaudible to the naked ear.
It was fun. I forgot the heat.
Then, while he made a fire in the pit to record the crackling sounds, I made us some dinner.
Being a filmmaker is a lot like being a five year old. It’s infectious, too.