I know what you’re thinking: Deb has been into the bubbly again and is having hallucinations. Well, if you know me, then you know I don’t drink alcohol. Although, one time a guy came up to my daughter and after observing my crazy behavior, inquired how much I had to drink. My girl responded that I did not drink. His next comment was, “Oh yeah. C’mon. How much has she had tonight?” My daughter just smiled and said, “No really. She doesn’t drink. That is how she is all the time. This is why I drink!” And this is how an innocent story became family lore.
Back to the bubbles. I find bubbles fascinating and here is why. When I was in, oh say, eighth grade, I had an old science teacher named Miss Geisler, at IPS # 73. I think she had a thing for Thomas Alva Edison, and was older than the sun, wore wire spectacles, rode the bus to school, always wore old lady shoes and taught every second kids were in her presence. She was persnickety, blew a whistle when we got too loud, and paddled when necessary, and was spell-bound by the electron microscope. Her classroom looked like it would explode with curriculum, folders, books, and such. I feared and loved her all at once. And learned, oh so much. One day, she told the class this scientific fact:
The thinnest source of atoms we can see with the naked eye is the common soap bubble.
Now….this was the late sixties, before fiber optics, mind-boggling technology, and Google. But I never forgot this brief lesson. And as I stood at the sink doing dishes as a pre-teen, I would hold a soap bubble up to the light and gaze at the prism-like rainbows. I would hear that teacher’s voice about the thinnest source of atoms and the ordinary became amazing. That bubble would rest on my fingers and I became spell-bound in the mystery of the scientific world. Who would have known that years later, I would teach a lesson developed by astrophysicists, beamed down from the space shuttle, called, ‘The Electo-Magnetic Spectrum: Seeing in a New Light’.This lesson dealt with light rays, the color spectrum, and how humans see their world of color in this atmosphere.
I know Miss Geisler was watching. And smiling. And perhaps, bubbling over with pride.
When we had ‘Bubble Day’ at school, the kiddos made ginormous bubbles using hoola-hoops as a bubble wand, filling the playground with “the thinnest source of atoms one can see with the naked eye.” Even today, one can browse FaceBook and see how to put glow sticks in bubbles and make magical spheres that float in the summer night. Weddings are replete with bubbles as the bride and groom exit the church in a barrage of lovely, floating, round rainbows. A nice, photographic, send-off that is far easier to clean up than confetti.
I am thinking that my science teacher’s acclamation has been replaced by some technological bling that makes the common soap bubble look as outdated as pagers and video-players. But, hey–I see how bubbles can make a toddler giggle, second graders play and learn, a bride and groom grin, and a sixty year old teacher gaze at the by-products of Dawn dishwashing liquid.
Don’t you love it when the simple, common, uncomplicated object lifts our minds and hearts to a place of contemplation? Isn’t it rather touching when an old sage makes a proclamation that sticks with a student up until her later adult years? Man, that is teaching at its finest! I have always regretted that the ‘thank you’ letter in my head never made it to the paper. I always meant to write Miss Geisler and tell her I became a teacher partly because of her influence. She left this planet many years ago to explore other physical and chemical dimensions I’m sure. And perhaps, to catch up with Mr. Edison. Yet, the bubble lesson never left me.
Bubbles. A whole bunch of science and fun floating on the air. Extraordinary spheres that shimmer and shine, reminding us that we are surrounded by miracles if we would only look, study, and think.
But mostly just bubble over with wonder. Just as Miss Geisler would have wanted.