A Universe in a Pizza Box

1170 Words3 Pages

A Universe in a Pizza Box

In one corner of our yard, just to the right of the trash cans and behind an aging fence, there is a stack of several pizza boxes, or at least there was one until last Sunday. These pizza boxes had accumulated almost mysteriously over some weeks in a very neat stack in the dirt beside the garbage cans. They waited patiently to be put out by the curb for the Tuesday morning recycling truck. Somehow though, while the neighboring trash cans moved in and out from the curb, and various loads of glass bottles and aluminum passed through this depot, the pizza boxes remained in the dirt, alone and forgotten. The rains came and softened up the cardboard, the stack sagged in the middle, and was again stiffened by the sun. Something amazing began to happen.

It was only after trying to throw out these old boxes in a fit of neatness, that I discovered the miracle that had taken place. I found when I pulled back the first layer, not just soggy cardboard, but a miniature ecosystem teeming with life. A herd of slugs meandered over the plain that read “Woodstock’s” in faded brown lettering. Suddenly exposed to light, a giant earthworm the width of my small finger writhed in the damp center. Flocks of isopod-like pill bugs dove for the corners and dodged around gleaming piles of earthworm eggs. Dashing about madly, a beetle and a confused, many-legged creature searched for a hiding place.

I watched the churning scene in amazement, marveling at the microcosm that these pizza boxes had become. I couldn’t bring myself to simply toss this wealth of life in a garbage can, yet the soggy pile shouldn’t sit in the yard any longer. There were only two individuals around that would appreciate this treasure more than I, and who could actually benefit from it too. A few minutes later I watched in satisfaction as my chickens, like two stately ladies, sampled the smorgasboard I offered. This is why I study zoology, I thought, for the enjoyment of just watching life act out its strange and comedic drama.

Earlier, while musing about how I came to study the animal world, I had wished I could tell of some cataclysmic event—a revelation or burning bush—that had told me that this should be my path.

Open Document