Rita Walker (Blog Twenty-two): By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
I made an open bin with plywood to throw in food scraps, dog poop and occasionally leaves. Every so often I throw soil on top. Over the years when I turned the mixture over with a shovel I found it full of earthworms and that the mixture had turned into soil.
The classroom has a new student, the girl who lit the candle without a match or lighter. The one who was arguing in the woods with Kanayago. She’s sitting to the right of Marlo who looks much better. Meanwhile Kanayago is sitting at the desk on the other side of Marlo. It’s interesting that all the elementals are sitting beside each other. On Kanayago’s desk she notices a small cardboard box. She looks for any reaction in Kanayago’s face that she knew it was her as the rat and then the chipmunk but the girl shows no curiosity.
“Can you tell us your name?” Rita says to the new girl.
“Ember,” the girl replies in a tired voice.
“Today’s lecture is on microorganisms,” Rita begins. She clicks on the projector where the screen is partitioned into five sections. Each section has a picture and a heading for the images of bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoa, and algae. “Bacteria and fungi are the main microorganisms that ingest the dead material.
“All these microorganisms,” Rita continues, “break down dead organisms into CO2 and minerals. I’m condensing this so you’ll need to read about how complex this is. What remains is called humus. Humus is carbon based and can hold up to ninety percent of its weight in water. Because it’s negatively charged it attracts ammonium and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and others.
“In deserts the main microorganism are cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria can desiccate so that it only contains 1-2% water. It will remain inactive until there is more rain. It is extremely important to get soil testing done before fertilizing. Phosphate, Potassium, and Nitrogen have to be added carefully so that an excess of salt isn’t created which will damage microorganisms. Next week’s lecture is on carbon engineering.”
Rita holds her breath as Kanayago walks up to her holding the box.
“I know we’re done talking about waste matter but I had a weird experience this weekend,” Kanayago tells her as she sets the box down on Rita’s lectern. “I captured a strange looking rat. I went to get something to keep it in. When I came back the rat was gone and I thought I saw a chipmunk running away. I guess the rat was so scared it defecated enough to escape. I was just wondering if you could analyze the droppings. Maybe I thought I saw a rat but it was actually a chipmunk. Both looked–.” Rita holds her breath as Kanayago searches for the right words. “Familiar.”
Rita can’t stop herself from gulping. “I’ll get it analyzed for you and let you know.” She picks up the box very carefully. The contents are a part of her.