Some serious spawning takes place behind the Country Inn and Suites near North Creek Business Park in Washington. A terrifying crew of freaky salmon swims upstream near hotels, busy streets, and corporate buildings, which if you ask me, is not a very romantic way to meet up and start a family, but “romance” is not the point here. These salmon are in their “death throes”—sparking a spectacle of bright red and green color as they dart about the stream and chase each other under the bridge. In an effort to make the change from ocean water to fresh water, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific salmon undergo some drastic changes that result in menacingly elongated jaws “armed” with hooks and shocking red and green patterns. The transformation, from “normal” silver-looking fish to this frightening version is absolutely spine tingling and perfect for Halloween. Of course I just have to drag the family 20 minutes from our house to see these scary looking fish! In fact, Patrick Cooney, of the Fisheries Blog compares them to zombies in a post titled, “The Swimming Dead: Videos of Zombie Fish.” As the fish hover close to the bottom of the stream in order to lay eggs, they look quite comatose—but they’re not dead—yet. Though they do not eat once leaving the ocean, they can survive on stores of fat until they lay their eggs—and then die–for real this time. It’s a scene at once primal, surreal, and tragic, so I have to take pictures and video and ask all kinds of “important” questions:
Me: Are they at least having some fun?
Nate, my husband, replies: Doesn’t look like it.
Me: Can you eat them while they’re red like this?
Nate: Why? They’re dying. The flesh is weakening and decaying. It wouldn’t taste very good.
Me: Do you think I could make a Halloween mask inspired by these fish? Do you think it would be scary?
Nate: You’re going to answer the door October 31st with a salmon mask on?
Me: Why would I wear a mask at home when I could wear it out in public?
Just then, a few salmon swim directly into view and we capture video—“oohing” and “aweing” in “whispered” voices so they can do what they were meant to do naturally—among the cars, people, hotels, restaurants, and office buildings.
When we get home, I commence my Halloween project right away, because every blog I’ve read regarding seasonal items warns of starting early. How embarrassing it would be to not have a Halloween costume at my age! I know—tragic. I would throw a fit. I’m imagining something huge, yet whimsical to cover my entire head. Or, it could have a chinstrap. I don’t want anyone to actually mistake me for a salmon, but I want it to be somewhat believable. Also, Alex would probably appreciate it if the mask fully covered my face because if I did go out in public, he wouldn’t want anyone to know that he has a salmon for a mom. I really wouldn’t blame him.
I get the basic idea for the form from a craft I’ve seen at the aquatic center where Alex’s swim team practices. Little paper “flexible” fish made their presence known in the lobby this summer and I just couldn’t take my eyes off them. I decided I could start with this design and just make it so much bigger. So, I used the following supplies and YouTube video as a “foundation:”
–Bright red poster board
–Double sided tape and a stapler (The YouTube video suggests glue sticks and/or glue for the regular, paper version, but my “mask” will require more drastic measures.)
–Green construction paper
After following the YouTube video, I had a pretty large fish to work with. It balanced nicely on my head and shoulders, as you can see here, but if I wanted to walk around in public with it, I’d need a chinstrap, but then my face would be exposed, and I really don’t want to embarrass Alex. (I’m not worried about Nate, though. He’s used to it.)
So, to make it “stick” to my shoulders, I guess I’d have to find a way to sew or staple the fish’s face to my shirt and go places where there are no breezes or the possibility of high winds. A stroll behind the Country Inn and Suites in Bothell, Washington then, would definitely be out of the question.
Your Turn: What will you wear for Halloween this year? Do you dress up to pass out treats in the neighborhood? Discuss!