With Houdini’s death came an awakening of the mind and spirit. The place where I’d been keeping long time curiosities seem to open up like the mouth of a volcano. Memories from childhood flowed down my sides and warmed my imagination.
I remembered that time back in Fifth grade when we dissected a baby pig. The teacher called me Dr. Bunting because of the skill I showed compared to my classmates. That moment still makes me feel proud when I think of it. Who has dissected owl pellets before? Those were like party bags filled with mystery to me. We would dab white glue on all the tiny bones we found and stick them to cardstock to carry home. Who cares if we didn’t understand how to articulate a skeleton or if our parents thought it was gross, it was FUN!
I recall one year I thought it was a great idea to ride bike around our neighborhood, stopping to climb trees and collect Cicada exoskeletons. It was like a treasure hunt not knowing what pose you’d find them in or where their next shell was hidden. On the chance I found an unlucky live Cicada I’d capture it and feed it to my rabbits. My Grandma, Violet said it was a healthy treat for them. At the end of each day I’d stash all the shells I found in a plastic bag from underneath the sink. Of course I’d save a handful of Cicada shells to stick on myself and other people for a reaction. When my brother found a buggy eyed shell clinging to his shirt or hanging on the back of his head he’d smash it trying to swat it off him. That part wasn’t very nice but I loved to scare him.
Fast forward years later while visiting my Mom I decided to poke around our attic full of cobwebs. (You know, the place where things go and we forget about them until we are bored.) It was dark in there. Well I found a couple of plastic bags that I couldn’t figure out what was inside. I tore one open and ALL of those Cicada shells I had collected years ago as a kid were pretty much pulverized and came flying up in my face. Not fun. At that point I decided Scrabble with Mom sounded like more fun than the attic, so I went back downstairs.
As a kid I had the opportunity to have a lot of great pets to observe and form friendships with. The list goes something like..Sea Monkeys, ducklings, iguanas, ladybugs, lightning bugs, stray cats, mice, hamsters, rabbits, a gerbil, frogs, a wild baby squirrel, baby birds, butterflies, goldfish, hermit crabs, a dog, a turtle, crickets and I’m sure I might be missing one. Oh yeah, and of course I wanted a pet Cheetah but couldn’t have one because I was allergic to cats. So instead when my friends and I built a go-cart I demanded we name it “The Cheetah”. You bet they agreed and I pulled out my tube of sparkled purple puffy paint and put it’s name with a paw print on the front of it. That go-cart had Cheetah qualities alright. It flew down our street so fast out of control that it ran over our neighbors mailbox, bursting it to pieces. Did I mention the mailbox belonged to a State Senator? That man would drive a red corvette with his pretty wife always in the passenger’s seat up and down our street. Sure, he was mad when he found out it was us who ran over his mailbox. But his wife still bought Girl Scout cookies from me that year and let us play baseball in their backyard, so I didn’t care.
I was starting to put this eruption of thoughts I was having together. I realized I’ve always had a fascination and love for the natural world, art, and working with my hands.
Curious, I signed myself up for a Taxidermy workshop.