Friday, May 2, 2008

Bright Week and an Earthworm

Bright Monday morning Rose and I completed a chapter in our Biology book on the phylum Annelida. As we worked through the various systems, we discovered the earthworm is a hermaphrodite, but reproduces sexually. The description was fascinating, but to a fifteen year old, the discussion of slime tubes and seminal vesicles was a source of both shudders and uncomfortable smiles.

We dissected our earthworm in the afternoon. As Rose identified all the parts and pieces, she and the children agreed the specimen had a distinct aroma of peach cobbler.

I don’t think I can remember a time when I was so grateful I can’t smell.

I won’t contradict them—nor will I have conflicting memories in years to come. In my day, peach cobbler smelled like peach cobbler (and my grandmother’s house) while a pickled earthworm in Biology class smelled exactly like any other nasty creature pickled in formaldehyde. My teachers didn’t have to candy-coat (or peach-flavor) science to sell it to kids.

The lab work took a while for Rose to complete so I sent the children outside. As she was finishing her lab sheet, LMark woke up from his nap and trotted into the room ready for an adventure. Little did he know what he would find.

Since an earthworm’s only biologically-abundant part is his anterior end, Rose gave LMark three inches of his posterior end, that is, his intestine. He had a good time imitating his sister, but appeared to suspect he was missing out on something more interesting going on at the anterior end.

Then,
as I made meatloaf for supper, Rose decided it would be funny to put a worm-ovary on a probe and poke it in my face. If I hadn't been more afraid she was going to poke out my eye, I would have reacted more quickly. I stood transfixed in fear at having the needle-like probe and a reproductive organ dancing so close to my face. Rose complained I was “acting like such a girl.”

No, it didn’t fall in the meatloaf--but it would have made for an amusing story if it did.

Especially when I made her eat it.
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