Over the summer I tried to have an assortment of different, fun, and creative things to do with our summer vacation. I wasn’t well enough to travel, even for day trips, and after swimming lessons ended we had a large chunk of time together in the afternoon. Soon she would be starting first grade and be at school all day long. I wanted to make the most of our time together. It was a perfect time to pull out the microscope that I asked for for Christmas.
Yes. I am a grown-ass woman, and I asked for a microscope for Christmas.
I had a microscope growing up, and I loved it. It was very simple and not as nice as this one, and I used it for years until it finally broke. Isobel knew I had a microscope in the closet and she begged me on more than one occasion to use it. I was waiting for an afternoon with lots of time to ourselves, hopefully while the baby was napping, so we could really enjoy it.
Unlike my toy microscope as a child, it didn’t come with pre-made slides with fun things to look at (I remember thinking the bee heart muscle was the most horrifying and exciting), so we came up with a fun list of things to mount on the empty slides:
- clean tap water
- dirty dish water
- parts of a California Poppy: steam, leaves, roots, petals, pollen
- cat fur
- people hair
- Isobel’s spit
- Kosher salt
- sugar, white & brown
Isobel’s favorite things to look at were the salt and sugar, because not only were they strange and beautiful in the microscope, but because afterwards, she got to eat them.
Before using the microscope, we watched an episode of the Magic School Bus that dealt with microbes, so much of our microscope time was devoted to finding these mysterious and tiny creatures. Tap water was pretty boring, but the water that held some soaking dishes in the sink was pretty interesting.
One of my favorite things to see was the greenish-yellow poppy pollen. The locked together like puzzle pieces and created geometric, yet organic, designs.
The most unexpectedly beautiful thing to see, and the thing we looked at the most and in different ways, was, strangely, Isobel’s saliva.
First of all, she thought it was hilarious to spit in a little cup “for science.” Just doing that was a thrill for her. When I took a look at it, all the bubbles arranging themselves in the perfect little patters, it was pretty incredible. It was truly beautiful. We were witnessing the sacred geometry of spit.
At the end, I asked Isobel about her favorite part and she said, “The best part about being a scientist is using a pipette!”