gillpolack (gillpolack) wrote,

I've been tagged by Matt in the latest Absolute Write blogchain. His post is a tough one to follow. Go check it out here , but read my post first because my story will be weak as a kitten by comparison. I have no good stories. None. Not ever. Not about science.

I wasn't brought up to tell interesting stories about science. I was brought up to see the world scientifically. To develop hypotheses and to prove or disprove them. In my childhood my family spent chunks of our holidays travelling Victoria hunting places that would make good geology or biology excursions. Mum tested out her texts on us.

A couple of my favourite holidays were leisurely drives westwards when I was about eleven. We went through the coastal salt lakes and learned how they were formed (and my inner incipient historian said "And the Chinese wells were here, too.") and stayed in Mt Gambier where we learned about the string of volcanoes that go from Queensland to Adelaide getting younger and younger (and my inner incipient historian said "Ooh, interesting buildings. I wonder how old they are? I wonder where the builders learned how to use stone like that?"). We travelled to Hattah Lakes and learned about double crystal gypsum and its formation (and my inner incipient historian tried unsuccessfully to persuade my mother that her oven was perfectly suited to transform some of the collected crystals into plaster of paris so that I could see how plaster casts were made 'in the old days').

We visited Naracoorte and its caves, and learned all sorts of things about stalagmites and stalactites and living caves and we investigated the bones of giant marsupials (and my inner incipient historian wondered about the interaction of humans with said marsupials and where I might find evidence). I talked my way into the museum at Naracoorte and one of my sisters complained the whole time. "It's just old irons and flags and photos and bits of lace," she said. "I want more geology."

I argued with my parents that it was incredibly important to make a detour to find out what some newly-discovered ancient fish traps actually looked like, but I lost that one. Instead we stopped off to pick up some granodiorite and find out why it's different from granite.

I collected three types of limestone one trip and managed to find a really good flint nodule amongst the limestone. I was a bit older then, maybe thirteen. Mum made me prove that the limestone was indeed limestone (using a lemon) before I was allowed to collect any. She thought I was interested in its chemical compostion. I wasn't. I was interested in how lime was made and what it was used for. I was interested in how flint was knapped and how it was used. People. How they interact with their environment. I still have that flint nodule.

Incipient historian won over parental scientific expectations every time.

The family didn't pay quite enough attention, despite regular complaints about how many museums I wanted to visit. When I gave up science at age fourteen it was shock to everyone. Not to me, though. I celebrated by giving away scads of my rock collection, including a really nice chunk of granodiorite.

Mind you, my childhood tales of visiting the Port Campbell area and getting a solid explanation of how limestone is carved into dangerous coastline by a combination of the environment and its own nature make some of my scientist friends say "I want your childhood."

Me, I walked that coast and listened to the explanations and looked for the water currents. I wanted to know where the shipwrecks had happened. I wanted to be the one to discover the mysterious Mahogany Ship. I wanted to see precisely how the Loch Ard survivors had been swept into Loch Ard Gorge and to safety. I wanted to personally greet the china peacock that had floated on the waves and escaped unscathed where almost all the crew and passengers were drowned. And I wanted to visit the little cemetery on the clifftop and mourn a moment for the dead.

I got to do everything except see the china peacock. "Not another museum," my sisters had complained.

And on that enlightening note I will introduce you to DT Kelly, who is next in line at The Secret Government Eggo Project . Have fun!

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