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Date: May 22, 2009

aidan, the analog kid

This one reminds me a little of one of my favorite songs by the Canadian rock trio Rush. The song is called “The Analog Kid” and the lyrics are by Neil Peart. I love this song.

“The Analog Kid”

A hot and windy August afternoon
Has the trees in constant motion
With a flash of silver leaves
As they’re rocking in the breeze

The boy lies in the grass with one blade
Stuck between his teeth
A vague sensation quickens
In his young and restless heart
And a bright and nameless vision
Has him longing to depart

[Chorus]

You move me
You move me
With your buildings and your eyes
Autumn woods and winter skies
You move me
You move me
Open sea and city lights
Busy streets and dizzy heights
You call me
You call me

The fawn-eyed girl with sun-browned legs
Dances on the edge of his dream
And her voice rings in his ears
Like the music of the spheres

The boy lies in the grass, unmoving
Staring at the sky
His mother starts to call him
As a hawk goes soaring by
The boy pulls down his baseball cap
And covers up his eyes

[Chorus]

Too many hands on my time
Too many feelings
Too many things on my mind
When I leave I don’t know
What I’m hoping to find
When I leave I don’t know
What I’m leaving behind…

 

plankton, squid, the imagination of children

Homewood, Illinois. Long shadows stretch across the asphalt tile of the multipurpose room in Dolphin Park’s tiny field house. Six children gather ’round, each kneeling on chairs in anxious curioisity, leaning in to examine the mysteries of our deepest oceans, laid bare, sprawled forth, on the blue vinyl of folding tables. Starfish exoskeleton, dissected squid, and the imagination of children propel us forward as we learn from a soft-spoken woman–an oceanographer?–in a dirty lab coat. Who would have thought such adventures awaited us twenty minutes from home on a Wednesday evening. The class is called “Sea You Later.” It’s focus: ocean habitat.

Over the course of an hour, we examine the remains of coral colonies, starfish, sea horses, and a variety of squishy, slimy mysteries perfectly preserved in tiny jars of formaldehyde. We craft our own coral reef using clay and the impressions of shells; we learn about the trickiness of plankton–both plant and animal–and how the largest of all the earth’s habitats depends on these barely-visible organisms for their very lives. With combs and toothbrushes, children fish pepper out of a tub of water–imagining the baleen whales use to filter tons of plankton in giant gulps of sea water; we simulate bubbles in ocean water, reminding us that sea animals breath oxygen too. We don one-size-fits-no-one disposable plastic gloves and finger a flaccid squid, at first with trepidation, and then with full force, letting it squish from tiny fists.

Gills, eyes, brain, arms, tentacles–saved from the chef’s fry basket–delivered to the snips, pokes, and prods of curious little hands and minds. With a clip of a child’s safety scissors, a four-inch thread of cartilage–the squid’s “pen”– is slid from his body. Moment’s later, those same scissors open him flat with a quick ventral cut from our lab-coated teacher. Another snip and the ink sack bursts, tiny artist brushes vying and dabbing for enough ink to scrawl each child’s own representation of that once-upon-a-time creature of the sea.

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