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Critical Thinking

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By shaggy100368
Words 2212
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I chose for my observation subject a California strawberry. The strawberries were already in my refrigerator just waiting to be made part of my morning smoothie. I chose to sacrifice this fruit because of the observation potential I thought it might have. The size, shape, color, flavor, and other appealing characteristics made me think that it would be a good subject that could keep my interest. I know that I need to slow down enough to be able to observe fully so I wanted something that could capture and hopefully keep my attention.
I took two strawberries out of the 1lb. package and placed them on a small square cutting board on the dining room table. I took two berries because I had already put some thought into the observation process I wanted to follow and this would allow me to cut open each strawberry in a different direction. I also had other supplies I thought I would need; a small knife, my paper, and pencil and a stop watch for keeping track of time.
First I held the strawberry; it was about 1 ¼” tall and ¾” at its widest and it was cold from being in the refrigerator. The shape of the berry is much like that of a heart, not the human organ but the one you would draw to show love. It was wider at the top and tapered down to a rounded bottom. It was red in color but with various tones of red, not a solid one color red. The outer skin was a rubber–like consistency; there was some resistance when I rubbed my fingers all around it. The skin was indented with seeds all over the surface but offered a shiny appearance that looked to be porous. The weight of the berry wasn’t much but it felt “weighty” like there was substance to it, not hollow or filled with air. One could easily bruise the flesh by squeezing to tightly or even worse mushing the whole fruit for it gave little resistance when pressure was applied to the fruit surface. I thought I kept feeling tiny hair-like fibers, but when I took a closer look I couldn’t find them and when I tried to feel them I couldn’t then either. It was only by chance when I wasn’t trying that I thought I may have felt something. My mind started to ask why. Why couldn’t I see them? Why can’t I feel them when I try? Are they really there? I had better just move on. I didn’t think I spent nearly enough time with the exterior so I continued my viewing of the surface. There were blemishes and other imperfections in the skin, a discolored area, and two dull areas that offered no shine at all. This is about the point where I understand that my age is playing trick on me with my eyesight. I can’t see up close as well as I use too, maybe I should have taken out my contacts and put on my glasses. Or better yet, does my daughter have a magnifying glass? Focus I say, focus on the subject at hand. This inner talk brings me back to the strawberry and the seeds that contained on it. The seeds are elongated oval in shape much like that of a common chicken egg. I could see them in their precise pattern, row upon row nestled in between each other like the honeycomb of a bees hive. I had never really noticed this before, there seems to be a reason for their placement, unbeknownst to me. At this time I have another internal struggle; should I or shouldn’t I count all those seeds? Shouldn’t won out by a very large margin knowing I would get very confused and lost especially with my lack of up-close 20/20 vision. That is when a brilliant idea pops into my head but before I give it more thought I get back to the observation at hand with the tools that I have, my very own senses. Back to the seeds I go. Continuing with the seeds they appear to have two distinct colors; red like the color of the berry covering 1/3 of the piece of fruit and yellow covering the other 2/3 of the fruit surface. The seeds are nestled very snuggly into the fruits outer surface. I picked a seed out and all though it did eventually come out, it didn’t give in easily.
It was about this time that I had a tickle in my throat and started to cough. I stopped to get a drink to stop the attack and got right back to work with my observing. It was a perfect time for me to break for I need to refocus and start again with a new perspective.
My eyes wandered to the top of the berry where the green leaves and stem where happily nested. The very small green stem sat at the very top surrounded by sixteen ½” leaves. These small green leaves were oval in shape and had slight upward curve extending away from the fruit. The soft fragile texture of leaves felt fuzzy in between my fingers and ripped easily when played with too much. The color of these beauties was green with light green edges and dark green veins running up the length of each leaf. At this point I tickled my nose with those silly leave while trying to gather if they afforded a scent or fragrance. No smell was detected but I giggled in spite of my crazy self. FOCUS! Back to the leaves, they formed a circular pattern or “halo” around the stem and in the middle of it all was fuzzy. Much like cotton candy, you know the kind you get at the fair. I love cotton candy but maple cotton candy is my favorite. FOCUS Sheila, I remind myself. I get back to the task at hand, the external details. The leaves pull off of the fruit with just a gentle tug, leaving the stem still connected to the fruit. I carry on to the next sense, the sense of smell. I again, put the berry to my nose and take a nice whiff, it is sweet and pungent; earthy I would say. Just like I knew it would. I keep it to my nose and keep smelling to see if there are any other smells that I may be missing but find nothing. I then lick the berry to get a sense of taste and I get nothing. No taste of the outside of that strawberry. Maybe I washed it too well before I started? The sun starts shining its warm illumination through the three large windows in my dining room making viewing much better. Natural light is so much better than a light bulb when you need to really observe, especially with my old eyes. I pull myself back in with the next step in my process of observing, the interior view.
This is where my second berry comes in to play because to really view you must think outside the box and stretch your limits. The first berry that I had been studying all along, I cut in half vertically. I noticed right away the prominent “heart” shape. This is where my mind drifts off a bit to my daughter. She is in her bedroom being quiet so that I may have at least an hour of quiet time to do my assignment. I just love that girl! Oh there I go again but I quickly get back on with the observation of the vertically cut half of strawberry. There are no seeds inside the fruit, but you can still see them visibly on the red outer surface. Each seed has a line of white leading from the seed to the center of the berry. This is a new experience for me, one I had never in my 45 years ever noticed before. The center of the fruit is a bit hollow, not solid like one would have thought by looking at the berry as a whole with its weighty feel. The inner surface of the berry is string-like shreds of fruit, much like fiberglass insulation you would find in a house. OK, but we are not talking houses here are we? We are talking strawberries. The second strawberry I cut in half horizontally. The shape was that of a circle with a hollow center. Both cuts were the same in color red, white, and pink and both were wet, juicy, and glistening with moisture. Although, these berries were nowhere near the quality or juiciness of berries we pick here in NH at our local farms in June. Oh I can’t wait to pick those and make strawberry shortcakes with whipped cream. I realize I get distracted by association. I am trying to label what I see with other objects and things that I am already familiar or are used to.
I must continue on with the observation, utilizing some more of my senses. I take a whiff of the inside and it’s not as sweet as the smell of the outside was. It is blander but I still smell the strawberry aroma that has been ingrained in me for a long time. So I took a small bite. That first nibble offered me a sweet sensation that quickly turned bitter. The taste buds in my mouth started this pucker dance that felt a bit odd but left me wanting more. It was that bitter sweet combination of nature tangoing with my tongue that was enticing me to try another nibble. The seeds where a chewy component, that loved to get captured within my teeth. I need a toothpick but ignore the desire and continue on. The fruit itself was easy to chew; it breaks down rather quickly in my mouth so I have a few more tastes. I am not bored or distracted at this point but I feel I need to open my mind to new possibilities to be able to see what is in front of me, to see what I am not seeing as of yet. I slice the strawberry again, this time separating the red outer layer from the white inner layer. I find the red inner layer to be very seedy, of course, but it lacked in flavor. I couldn’t really taste much at all and only really noticed all the seeds. I then tried the white inner portion all by itself. It also was bland but a bit sweeter than its red counterpart. So I conclude that by eating the layers separately they don’t amount to much flavor but eating them together can offer an explosion of bitter and sweet sensations.
It is here that I start to wonder if I should eat my fruit now. How much time is left? I am approximately 37 minutes into my observation exercise and decide that eating my berries isn’t an option just yet. This is where my brainstorm from earlier kicks back into my consciousness; the great idea of getting my daughter’s microscope. I couldn’t think of a better way to more closely observe than by using this visual tool.
I was amazed to say the least at what I discovered. I first looked at an exterior piece of the berry with the seeds intact. Did you know those little seeds are multi-colored and have stems? They do! Most of the seeds still had stems attached, not all but most. Why? What would be there purpose, regeneration? Along with the seeds there are little specks of something, miniscule dirt maybe. You know what else? I am not crazy after all. Strawberries are hairy. There are little fiber-like hairs on the outside surface of the berry and with using the microscope you can see that the red is porous, little grooves in the tundra you might say. While the meaty inner part of the berry shimmers like crystals in a cave, shiny layers of pink, red, and white cells with spots of brown. It is at this moment that I am at a loss for words on how to describe what is before my eyes, the beauty and amazement of what I see is hard to define with words. There are even imperfect brown spots that I hadn’t seen myself. Let me tell you about the leaves. They have silver hair like fibers growing from the base to the tip of each leaf. It is as if the hairs help the leaves have that soft feeling. They glisten with moisture and you can clearly see the many dark green/brown veins that run the length of each leaf. They are magnificent to look at but if a bug starts looking at me or crawling I am going to freak!
This was my Eureka moment of discovery. Just when I thought I had reached the bottom of new findings and observations utilizing my own God-given senses, the microscope was there to teach me a valuable lesson. There really is so much to observe when we take the time to slow down and discover what is really right before our very eyes.

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