In my youth, either the Signals or Wireless catalog sold little glass-encased ecosystems. For example:
As Kudzu Creeper describes it, “it was possible to buy your own biosphere for about $65. At that price one obtains a 2 inch glass seawater filled egg containing 4 visible layers, a small bubble of air, seawater with tiny shrimps swimming in it, a layer of green algae slime encrusting the sides and a brown basal layer of organic matter.”
Thrilling, no? For $65, you could play God with some terribly bored shrimp— though the things in the photo don’t look shrimpy, now do they? You just KNOW some kid’s going to break the thing, or shake it violently to see what happens.
During last March’s trip to New Mexico, I
stole gathered some funky seedpods from a campus garden dedicated to plant life of the Chihuahuan desert:
Screwbean seedpods! A great name and not half bad as a profanity, either. Every single time I see these seedpods, I wish I had dreadlocks. Or a unicorn horn. Would it be greedy to ask for both?
I packed my seedpods in inflated plastic bags so they wouldn’t get crushed in my suitcase, flew them back to Pennsylvania, chucked ’em on a high shelf, and forgot about them.
You see where this is going, yes?
While packing for the big move to New Mexico, I discovered that screwbean seedpods house not only seeds, but also tiny flying bugs. For MONTHS, these critters had been hatching, bouncing around the bag for awhile, and dying right there in my bedroom. I’d no idea. What kind of lousy deity accidentally creates ecosystems and forgets them entirely? There’s a fun take on Deism; we’re the bugs in a bag on God’s bookshelf. But how tall is this God, and how tall are his bookcases? More importantly, what books would this God have on these shelves?
Wait, wait, let me get back on track.
When we reached New Mexico, I discovered yet another icky ecosystem; the homeowner had kept her flour, sugar, and other pantry staples sealed in Rubbermaid containers. By the time I arrived, these containers also housed hundreds of weevils, some alive and squirming, many dead and lying in piles. How’s THAT for dystopia? Be born in a box, spend your life eating flour and crawling over the corpses of your ancestors, die and join the pile.
I’m not sure if the weevils were coming from the flour or whether they emigrated from the other weevil-filled cupboards. Either way, they’d had seven months to breed and flourish unnoticed. I spent a grim evening scrubbing and wiping out unsuspecting weevil colonies. Plus feeling horrible about it, because as much as I dread insects, I also dread murder.
Now, perhaps my Seedpod Hideaways and Flour Farm can’t be considered true ecosystems because they lacked water. But the pod/grain was enough to sustain many, many generations of little bugs, so…. I know nothing.
All I know is this:
Life on this planet is absolutely disgusting.