Many years ago, my husband Kevin bought me a pin that said, “I love poetry, long walks on the beach, and poking dead things with a stick.”
I can’t find that pin anymore, but much of what it said still rings true. I must admit that I read much more prose than poetry. I do like long walks on the beach (as long as I have enough sunscreen on–otherwise it just gets painful). But a long walk on the beach with me will almost certainly include numerous stops to investigate the tiny fish in tidal pools, examining and identifying shells, or quite honestly, poking dead things with a stick.
The squishy, icky, and bloody
I have always enjoyed the squishy, slightly icky things in the natural world. When I was a kid, while shopping for groceries with my mom, I would sneak off to check out the seafood section of the grocery store so that I could squish the fish eyes through the plastic wrap. I loved looking at stinky samples of partially digested grass and gastric juices taken from a cow stomach during my undergraduate zoology labs.
I once decorated Christmas cookies like fossils and brought them to a paleontology exam, and after a friend was cut in the leg while skating, my roommates and I made a cake to represent the rink, along with tiny red frosting trails representing his bloody path leading off of the ice.
And I can’t say that much has changed in the years since I was in college. I still get a thrill from all of the delightful worms and pill bugs in my compost. I always look forward to sheep eye dissection day during our grade 8 science unit on optics. I have kind of a strange fascination with parasites, and quite a ridiculous collection of science-related news stories to share with my classes about guinea worms and a wide variety of disease causing protozoans.
My daughters and I love relaxing on a Friday night by watching a nature documentary on the slimy hagfish or cooking up some “tasty” owl pellets (the bones and fur that owls regurgitate after digesting their prey) for an owl-themed ninth birthday party.
Pig guts anyone?
I guess it comes down to the fact that I, along with some of my esteemed colleagues, find many things that other people might deem rather repulsive to be not only memorable, but also amazing little glimpses into this amazing world and into the mind of our Creator.
So, in many of our classes at Abbotsford Christian Middle School, we take every possible opportunity to gross our students out. Need something to liven up your unit on the diversity of life? Try dissecting a squid (and then frying up the leftovers for some tasty calamari). Is there a dead animal slowly decomposing in Stoney Creek? Don’t worry–we’re on it. Talking about the respiratory and circulatory systems? Order some pig guts from the butcher so that you and your students can check things out.
Now that I think about it, I really should see if I can find that pin…