For the science fair this year, Matilda has grown little pots of grass.
(Yes, I said pot and grass in the same sentence. Those of you playing may now tip your shot glasses.)
They were supposed to be bean plants, but I have some kind of black karma attached to beans as science fair projects, which I'll explain in a moment. Matilda's experiment was designed to show the benefit of adding compost to regular topsoil, and thank everything that's holy, it worked. Science fair gives me nerves that make me want to throw up.
Sixth grade was one of the years that started in one city and ended up in another. It meant a new shade of plaid, uniform skirt, assessment tests that demonstrated how poorly I could add and subtract, and three short weeks to put together a science fair project at the new school.
Of course it was "optional" for me. In the sense that all graded work is optional. Ha Ha.
My dad determined that we would create the Best Darned Science Fair Project Ever by growing bean plants.
Two and a half weeks later, I remember my dad engineering a last-ditch growth effort with my little pots perched precariously atop a ladder in the garage with at least 400 kilowatts of merciless halogen light pointed directly at them. I think there were also many instances of the f-word.
I managed to get one sad little sprout that flinched from loud noises or quick movements.
"Clearly, it is nothing short of madness," I said in my conclusion, "to try and grow live plants while the earth is cold and dead."
"Isn't it time for remedial math?" replied my teacher
Matilda and I planted bean seeds over Christmas break. The seeds obviously lost their will to live as soon as I touched them. They burrowed deep into the soil and crumpled into moldy pits of rot and decay.
Luckily, there was enough time to try again with fast-growing grass seed, and since I do
not pretend to know what an independent variable is, Gary helped Matilda write up her results into a first-rate project.
I suggested naming it "The Effects of Compost on Grassy Little Miracles: Cha-cha-cha-Chia!"
That's all I've got.