Stink Jars : applied and pure
If I can just find the right ingredient, the perfect piece of sheep’s wool caught on the barbed wire in the rain, the sharpest gum leaf from the nature strip, the precise geranium petal under my parents’ bedroom window, the excellent dead moth discovered in the wardrobe. (Beautiful ferment) While my brothers experiment with ideal ratio of superphosphate to paddock, to cow, to gallon of milk, to butterfat content, my sister and I toil in the packing crate workshop next to the Fred Flintstone-painted cubby house. (Ooh, look, this piece of asbestos fallen off the wall makes a handy dinner plate!) (Risk : ratio) Theirs was applied capitalist science. Ours, pure curiosity, with a tinge of sibling competition. (Nurture stink) Note: the scum that forms across the top of the Stink Jar is what holds it down and in. But if you pierce it, phewwweeee! (Lament) Meanwhile my mother experiments with the latest self-saucing packet mix padded out to serve eight and baked in a dish in the electric frypan to save firing up the wood stove in summer. (Domestic Science) And the boys at school experiment carving rockets out of balsa wood powered by soda bulbs. They string wire across the playground from swings to building corner and we all line up to watch. (Performance) My sister in her invisible white coat also has a secret laboratory in the chimney under the house. But I’m not allowed to go in there. Tiny bottles and jars perch on the brick ledges. (The science of accidents) My beloved toy rabbit, left behind — another kind of experiment. Watching its guts bust open all winter through the slats as I pass on my way to school.
Feature image via 'Art Collection - The Metropolitan Museum of Art'