Here’s what happened. We were walking together when I saw bog bean en masse. I was eager to look for those green beans for which it is named, to take photographs. So I went for it, unthinking. I squelched through sphagna which segued into bog bean, lost my balance in a thick vegetable soup, and toppled in. One of my walking poles snapped off and drowned irretrievably. I didn't realise until afterwards when I lay on the grass with half a pole in my hand. It happened so quickly the exact sequence passed me by. I’ve always wondered about the profile of a bog and where the silts on the bottom eventually meet rock. You cannot feel the rock beneath, only thick, cloying ooze and soft silts of decomposed bogbean flower-stems and rhizomes, sphagna and all the constituents of peat bog. Like the drowned sheep Barbara and Austin pointed out once they’d rescued me. Swimming with drowned sheep! The surface of the water was spangled with tiny winged insects, ephemeral, but more photogenic than a decomposing sheep. We stopped for a drink at a rocky knoll and I poured water out of my walking boots, took off my socks and wrung them out. By now, we rather wished Barbara had taken the immersion photographs but at the height of the drama it had seemed in poor taste to photograph a friend in difficulties. I do have pictures of me retrieved from the bog, saturated and with remnants clinging all about me.
Sometimes I go too far in pursuit of a photograph. I should have known better. You can see bog coming, you can recognise it by a colour change, by vegetation changes. Bright green spells danger. I’ve known all this as long as I’ve known Barabara and Austin, I saw it. I was careless and the lure of bogbean drew me on, simple as that.
I was lucky to be with friends, although when I walk alone I’m more careful because I’m aware of the danger. What this photo-sequence shows is something of the ecology of blanket bog.
This is the only time I’ve been in deep and helpless. Without companions, I tell you this wouldn’t have been comedy.