Friday, December 14, 2007

Sea monkeys!

I carefully unwrapped the protective casing from the egg-shaped globe and peered inside. It's an eco-sphere, my boss told me. I was the proud new parent of four shrimp of various sizes. I named them after L'engle and her characters that are close to my heart: Calvin (the longest, orange one), Charles Wallace, tiny, almost clear in color, but the most active, Madeleine, who sits and observes the algae and the world around her, and Vicky, slightly smaller than Madeleine. Vicky hid for the first three days, and I only discovered and named her today.

I felt a strong sense of nurturing toward my three (now four) shrimp. I set a note by them on my desk, with a warning "not a snow globe" (the bottom is filled with white pebbles, tempting to shake). After reading the 'how to raise' manual, I realized the eco-sphere is completely self-sufficient, but I must be careful to monitor how much light and heat it gets, as too much, or too little will upset the delicate balance. I brought them home over the weekend after I realized that the lights never go out in our web-room. I checked them for signs of light OD - as if I knew what a sea-monkey looks like strung out on over-stimulation and lack of sleep, their one celled organism brains spinning, looking for a fix, gorging on algae.

Too attached to protoplasm, you might be thinking? Tempted to give me your cat or unruly toddler? I think I have officially scared my roommate, and surprised even myself, the woman who names and speaks frequently to her plants, who as a child flipped over beetles struggling on their backs. Perhaps it was my love of "The Velveteen Rabbit" and subsequent belief that my teddy bear did come to life at night, but I have always sensed that any life form, no matter how small, deserves my respect and love. Thus, as I prepared shrimp stir-fry last night, it was carefully out of range of the sea-monkey's view.

The website explains that the spheres are crafted as an educational experience, as well as for their beauty and meditative aspect. I thought about getting one for my white-elephant party gift tomorrow night, but the thought of them being passed around, exchanged and traded, was too much. I went with the less emotional choice of a snowman that poops edible candy when you push on its stomach, and a wheel o' religion, a "guide for the savvy convert."

If you can't afford a labradoodle, a sea-monkey is the perfect gift for the little asthmatic in your life.