On the way home she asked about the soil, and said it sounded like the world was an animal.
In a way it is, I said. You know how everything started out as just germs? I said.
Yes, we’ve talked about that many times, she said – back when the germs were first making the rocks and ores of the world, when the sky was pink with carbon dioxide and the oceans purple with halobacteria, before the first germs ever organised into bodies. I’ve told her how germs are still around with us, an ocean through which we move, and that most of the cells even in our own bodies are not our own.
Are we like the cells in our bodies? She asked.
I said we were part of something much greater than ourselves, and as we talked we decided that the rivers were the blood, the rocks were the bones, soil the flesh, and animals were the nerves.
“What kind of germs are we?”
It depends what kind of person you are, I said. Some people have been like the bad germs, making the world sicker.
“Can we be like the white blood cells?” she asked, knowing that they patrol the body and heal it.
We’re not born that way, I said, but we can learn to be.
“I’d like to be a white blood cell when I grow up,” she said.
You’re well on your way, I said.
Photo: The Girl in a ruined dovecote -- a place where pigeons were raised for messages and food -- near our house.