Phantasy Friday: December, When Ghost Hunting Gets Cold!

I can’t believe it’s the second day of December already! Things have been frosting nicely at night, leaving the grasses and leaves beautiful with their glittery white attire. Very fairy-ish in the pale morning sun. Not so much fun when it burns off wet and all those limp, damp, brown pecan leaves cling like one-dimensional leeches to the bottoms of your shoes. Between the dogs and grandchildren I’m tempted to start an indoor mulch box. I’ve certainly recovered enough material tracked across the floors for one.

It’s off topic, but I just have to share my first attempt at NaNoWriMo. Ended up with 68,449 official words. Probably need another 15k to finish the book, but I was assured it still counted as a NaNo win. We had a house full for the Thanksgiving holidays or I may have even finished it. (Hey, I’m entitled to any excuse I care to use at my age!)

But back to ghost hunting. I’m looking forward to Winter Solstice and all the metaphysical properties it entails. Most people think Halloween is the most paranormally active day of the year. Well, they’re mistaken. The most active day is Winter Solstice– which falls on December 22 this year — and is a ghost hunter’s dream. I’m hoping our crew has something challenging lined up.

Everyone out there knows how glamorous ghost hunting can be. Hauling equipment, setting it up, tearing it down. Changing batteries in everything. Then changing them again. Hours of sitting without making a sound between questions during a session (don’t want to mess up the Electronic Voice Phenomena recordings); staring at the split screen monitor until your eyes cross (making careful notes of camera number, time, and possible evidence on the event log, all to be reviewed later frame by frame); organizing groups to take rooms and outdoor locations in rotation (some people are good investigators, but just don’t play well with others. But aren’t personality clashes true everywhere?); making sure the memory cards from the digital cameras get downloaded into the laptop to examine and compare to the infrared motion cameras and event log.

But when it gets cold, there’s a whole new level of challenges to conquer.

In the cold you have to wear protective gear. Ever try taking pictures with gloves on? You don’t always hit the right button. You can’t help but fumble the camera on occasion too. We always gets a few hilarious frames with panicked expressions mid juggle, and if the camera shoots in rapid bursts, you get full effect of widening eyes and can lip read the accompanying slow motion “Oohhh, nnnoooo!” The still shots reveal faces stretched into unattractive grimaces of avoidance of the flash, eyes squinched tightly shut.

An outdoor interaction session in the cold can be downright uncomfortable. Since you freeze whether you sit or stand, I prefer to sit on the ground. The camera doesn’t have so far to fall that way. It may take a couple of the guys pulling on my arms to unstick my butt later where my jeans have frozen to the ground, but we get it done.  And when your nose gets cold, I don’t care who you are; you sniff. We’ve had to call warnings to investigators: “Recorded session coming up! Blow now, or forever hold your sn– um, silence.”

Another problem with taking pictures outdoors in the cold is breath vapor. It’s takes a conscious effort to hold your breath and extend the camera away from your face while snapping shots. And if things start happening, it’s only natural to breathe a little faster and get that viewfinder where you can see what you’re shooting. Quite a few newbies get ribbed with, “We’d have had something here if (fill in the blank) would just quit breathing so hard!” To prevent disappointment, one of the first things we do is show investigators the difference in paranormal mists and a hot breath released into cold air.

And have you ever tried to walk quietly when you can’t feel your toes? I’ve always heard your big toe is critical for balance. Well, the other four must feel left out or something, because they hang up on every twig, grass clump or slight rise in the ground to gain their share of attention.

Winter weeds out the prima donnas. Everyone has to do every rotation. So the wimps tend to fade out of the investigation area when it turns icy outside.

Oh! And Never. Never. Ever, ever, ever agree to have a magazine photographer or television film crew accompany you during the winter and expect to appear professional. Pull that cap off when you come back indoors and you have a head full of static electricity. A person tends to look a little crazy with their hair shooting in every direction. A group of them is guaranteed laughter. You always catch somebody elbowing his buddy and snickering, “Oh, look. It must be a ghost. Their hair is haunted!”

Sigh. The things we endure to advance our chosen field.

That’s not everything, but it’s enough for now. I’d hate for you to get bored. So until next week, keep up the word count! I want some good books hitting the eReaders and shelves out there!


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