Tuesday, May 20, 2008

When I was a kid I had this big tub of silica gel crystals, left over from a science fair experiment, that I would bury flowers in. I liked the feeling of clutching a blossom in my palm and searching with my fingers through the tub for the right place to let it go. And sometimes I would go excavating, digging up all of those now-dried flowers, often tearing off their petals in my excitement to pull them out and look at what happened to them when all of the moisture goes away. They were the ghosts of something that had been beautiful, and I kept them in a vat of desiccant and took away their colors so that they would last forever.

A few years later, in my "gifted" class in seventh grade, we mummified a chicken while studying the Egyptians, and left it in a cardboard sarcophagus, buried, for the next year's class to find. Somehow it was much less romantic to be covering poultry with bags of salt to produce a sad, wizened carcass than it was to plunge a handful of flowers into those fine white crystals.

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