My grandma never swam in Torch Lake…
I doubt she ever even saw it. Her love of water centered around a much smaller lake in southwestern Michigan near Clarksville. I spent all of my summers there, learning the great water activities, fishing with a bobber, playing water seesaw on a giant inner tube, water skiing, sailing, skinny dipping…(more on that later).
I’ve brought the memories of my grandma to Torch Lake. As one of the great unknown conservationists & an excellent story-teller, she’s the one who taught me about dinosaur pee. After watching my sister & I swim one day, she casually asked us if we knew we were swimming in dinosaur pee. Great reaction! Shrieking & thrashing, we learned the fine art of levitation that afternoon but once the squealing stopped, the story began.
She spoke of how the great dinosaurs roamed our earth, describing what they ate & how they lived. Finally she said, ” Of course you know dinosaurs peed.” You know what information like that would do to 8 & 10-year-old girls…once the squealing & shrieking subsided again, the real lesson started.
What do you think happened to the dinosaur pee?
She started by explaining the water cycle. We talked about all the kinds of precipitation we’d experienced (which in Michigan means most of them). She demonstrated condensation by making us ice-cold glasses of lemonade. Finally, she tackled the magic of evaporation. It was easy because it was a hot afternoon & our swimsuits were drying while we sat. Then she went further, oversimplifying horrendously! She drew the Mickey Mouse head version of a water molecule in the sand.
You have to kind of squint to see Mickey. She said that the hydrogen & oxygen atoms that made up the “Mickey Mouse” water molecule were actually found in the air that we breathe & that when they cooled off, they hooked up & became water. She pressed on telling us that when the molecules heated up, they unhooked or evaporated, & the atoms became part of the air again. She said the whole thing was a continuous process taking place again & again & again, creating the water cycle. Obviously, she said, some of the water from the water cycle ended up as dinosaur pee after they drank it.
At this point if you’re an environmentalist or a scientist, you may be just rolling around laughing at the simplicity of this lesson but my sister & I thought it was pretty cool…gross, but cool. What we didn’t understand was how we could be swimming in you-know-what if the dinosaurs had live so very long ago.
I’ll leave you to think about the answer until Wednesday as all this talk of water is making me uncomfortable & I think I hear the hammock calling. In the meantime, be careful where you swim.
Me…I’m off to – well – you know!!