Blog,  My Travel

Dear Diary: Lessons From A Chemistry Set

When I was a kid, time was not punctuated by holidays or annual gatherings, but, instead, it was marked by the monthly treks the adults made off Indian land; and for me specifically, what treasures might be brought back from the ‘real world‘. I had spent hours perusing the Montgomery Wards circulars and Sears catalogs, so I was well-versed in the toys and trinkets that existed there and not here.

I wondered if I would get a Barbie doll, with alabaster skin, scab-free knees, and blonde hair? (I never did;) or maybe I would get a set of paper dolls, the kind that you pulled out of a book and dressed in fancy hats and high-heeled shoes? (Again, they never arrived.) A tea set? No. Perhaps a View-Master that I could look through and see pictures of other places? A dollhouse? Easy-Bake Oven? No. No. No.

But, one day, my Grandmother brought me a white tin box with latches. Inside that box, was a Chemistry set, complete with scales, beakers, spectroscope, and litmus paper. The tin box was filled with plastic blue bottles, white labels announcing the ‘chemical‘ in each one; sodium bisulfate, uranium, ammonium nitrate and so much more. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen and my imagination went into overdrive.

The first thought I had, as any 9-year old kid would, was that I needed a laboratory–(pronounced lab-BOOOOR-a-tory); for such a fine item, so I decided to construct one. I spent days drawing plans in the mud, gathering scrap wood, scavenging–(and straightening) nails and deciding on the exact location of the said lab.

A couple of months later, I had built my lab–(although, shack would be the more correct term), but, it did have a door. Then I set about beautifying the inside of the hut. I cleaned the dirt floor, placed boards over sawhorses for a counter, found a chair, taped a picture and lined books on the wall. At least three months had passed and I still had not even cracked the tin foil covering to one chemical in the coveted chemistry set. Today, with Meth labs, homegrown terrorism, and liability lawsuits; the chemistry set has gone by the wayside; but as a kid of the ’70s, that chemistry set provided me, not with hours, days or even weeks; but months of entertainment.

As we tread these unknown waters together, I find myself reflecting on things from my past that brought me a peaceful reverie and joy. They were simple things; old wives’ tales, Indian sayings, pearls of wisdom from various sources and little plastic bottles of random chemicals in a tin box.

Today, as we continue to hunker down and #shelterwhereweare; may you find your own version of those plastic bottles–and may they fill you with peace, vision, and hope; and remember, that we might feel buried, but, perhaps we are just being planted.

Go forth



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