Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Fruit Project

"Children find everything in nothing; men find nothing in everything."
-Giacomo Leopardi

My brother and I, in our youth, conducted an experiment that involved a piece of fruit and a biscuit tin, and a wellspring of curiosity that had no end. In short, we nurtured a banana and gave it a unique classification.
During the month of December friends and family would invariably call on us and bestow gifts of biscuit tins- the cheerful containers were delightfully bedecked with reindeer, Santa Claus or snowflakes and one way or another my brother and I always found a use for the pretty things beyond storage of generic biscuits.
Sometime after Christmas one year, when the supply of gift-biscuits had at last been depleted and the tins were almost empty, my brother and I deemed the occasion right to commence our work.
We snatched from the table a bruised and sorry looking banana. We emptied the least popular and therefore doomed biscuits- there are always some sort that nobody will ever eat- into another tin, and took our project outside. The banana went into the tin, the lid was closed tightly and the whole thing was given a name. We called it- secretly of course- after two people we were not so fond of; let us say here, for the sake of common decency and privacy, that it was X and Y's Atomic Banana. X and Y were a rather volatile and acerbic pair and we thought the name apt.
That was that.
We were to resolutely check in on X and Y's Atomic Banana, which was stored safely in the darkest recess of the garage, every few weeks to examine its sticky and unsettling progress. The more rusted and liquidised and melted and vile and unbanana-like the banana became, the more successful we considered ourselves in our ambitions.
I cannot now recall what was done in the end with the tin when all traces of fruit had evaporated, when the tin and the banana had absorbed each other to create an object that was neither wholly tin nor completely banana but we thought fondly of X and Y's Atomic Banana in the years afterward.
The game, as such, cost next to nothing; was an enormous amount of fun; lasted a long stretch of our childhood; required great leaps of patience and taught us one or two things about the aging process of a banana.
One can hardly discount such fun and learning and ungarnished enthusiasm. Those were the days.


Pauline said...

it is just that sort of curiosity I hope to instill in my second graders. my brother and sisters and I performed similar experiments. One involved a poor dead bird and numerous re-interments until no more of the beautiful feathered thing remained but its sad little skeleton.

Barb said...

What memories of (what might be considered now at my age "yucky") fun childish experiements when curiosity was in full bloom!!!!

Thanks for the memories. B

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Pauline, they're lucky to have you, I'm sure, teaching them about such things. It's very important and often neglected now in favour of more modern ventures.

Barb, they were fun experiences -of course we can't all do that when we're adults but children should be encouraged ;)

polona said...

ohhh, great fun!
although the grown ups had no understanding at all when they discovered my version of such an experiment :)

Tam said...

If you ever yearn for more similar experiments my plastic bone bins are always ready for your close inspection. ;-)

Jaime said...

Just how long of a stretch of your childhood did this project go on?

I so admire the ability children have to make an adventure out of just about anything.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Polona, I'd love to hear about your version sometime- children do get up to messy stuff. It's good for them.

Pye, ah, yes, your bone bins- I'll bear that in mind :) Ask that sibling of mine (Scorpio) if he remembers anything about a dead bird he had wrapped up in a cloth that he asked me to fetch him.

Jaime, I would say three or four years of a stretch, then the tin got lost/thrown out- it disappeared. Maybe it melted! Maybe Mater found it.

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