Uppermost House: Calvin grows up…sort of

By S. Peter Lewis

BN Columnist

In the last frame of a great Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, Calvin is sitting at the kitchen table with a bowl in front of him, holding a spoon and looking straight into the eyes of the viewer. “I won’t eat any cereal that doesn’t turn the milk purple,” he says, with obvious glee.

When I was Calvin’s age (6), my cereal preference was not based on what color the milk turned or how thick the sugar coating was or if there were any percussive snap-crackle-pop noises; I was much more pragmatic — I just wanted the stuff they promised if you sent in enough box tops: erector sets, secret decoder rings, balsa wood airplanes with rubber-band engines, magic sets, sea monkeys (just add water), amazing crystal-growing kits (just add more water), x-ray vision glasses (a huge disappointment), “How to be a real spy” books, and the like. I would have gladly munched eight boxes of Pablum-Infused Cardboard Shreds if it had got me a miniature submarine that ran on baking soda and vinegar (not included).

An envelope full of Sugar Pops box tops once got me an ant farm, although the package arrived in our mailbox in January and the ants appeared stiff and lifeless from the frigid cold. My mother (a very clever woman) defrosted the insects on a cookie sheet in the oven, which she had preheated and then let cool until it was resurrectingly warm. I can still remember mom and me on our knees, peering in through the oven window while the little guys began to stir and scratch about. (“Quick, get me a spatula and a mixing bowl!”)

This was way back in the olden days of the 1960s, and while I had no understanding of delayed gratification, I nonetheless had to suffer the long delays involved in corresponding via the U.S. Postal Service, running down the driveway each afternoon after school to check the mailbox, and one day sitting with mom in our 1963 Rambler station wagon at the end of the driveway, eagerly awaiting a small microscope (thank you, Captain Crunch) while the wipers played back and forth against a discouraging rain.

I suppose I was a nerdy kid, and my wife will tell you that not much has changed. “Marry a nerd,” she says. “They make the best husbands.” I take that as a compliment, I guess.

With spring finally here, my nerdy little mind recently turned once again to all things dirt. Suffering from nagging pH problems over the last few years, I put the lime to the raised beds in our vegetable garden not long ago, but after kneeling and scooping up a soil sample and crumbling it in my hand and sniffing it, I determined that something was still missing. I was a man in much need of organic matter.

After intense Googling, I found what I wanted: a government-approved, highly-engineered product made to exacting specifications from all-natural by-matter whose base material was…well, never mind. And so I called and ordered.

Instead of a stack of Choco-Asteroids box tops, I needed a wad of cash this time, but just like my little Calvin self of old, there I stood last Saturday morning, right in the middle of our little country road, staring south, jumping up and down while frantically awaiting the rumble of the truck that would signal the arrival of five yards of composted municipal bio-solids (with organic binder). Ohboyohboyohboy! All I needed was a striped beanie with a propeller on top.

Please follow and like us: