Sunday, July 26, 2009

the gentle Ants of Missouri

friggem-fraggem.... $@*%!..... i am not happy.
if i wasn't so gosh-darned determined to have a blog available for the readership of anyone and everyone, i'd be "yelling" a few choice words right now.
"Let me 'splain..."

it's a beautiful Sunday morning.
i have a beautiful life.
(discounting last night's nightmares) i woke up early, took Clowie on an uneventful walk (big thing for my dog, let me tell you), wandered innocently into the backyard to give my budding vegetables a nice, long drink.... everything was going fine.

birds singing...
yard still shaded by the tangelo tree...
still at least an hour before we hit the triple-digit temeperatures...
mentally planning a lovely lunch with Mr. Fantastic's temporarily-bachelorized father...

you know, now's the time when bad things typically happen, right? just when you least expect it? you're ambling along in life, doing what you do, allowing yourself to get excited about little things here and there, and BAM!
something bad.
don't get me wrong.
i'm not equating this morning's event to chest pain, terminal illness, death of a family member or anything quite so unexpectedly horrible, yet these things, too, happen when you've let your guard down for 5 seconds... or even when you haven't.
not trying to philosophize, here, just trying to tell my dang story in my "so wordy" way (thanks a lot, Kate).

i had just given my zucchini and cucumbers a thorough dousing (geez louise, when are you guys going to FLOWER, for heaven's sake?!!! you've been taking up space, soaking up nutrients for 4 months, now.... *sigh*... my failure as a gardener belongs in a different post), and i walked over to the hose to refill the watering can and share the H2O with my withering tomatoes. that's when it happened.
i was being cautious!
i had kept a wary eye out for those evil little buggers, already... i guess my cursory glance at the ground earlier didn't count for my second trip to the watering hole.
because those furious, quick-footed, Arizona Ants were going to town on my left foot, covered only by the straps of my flip-flops.
i immediately dunked the assaulted member into a nearby bucket of water.
meanwhile, the rest of the troops attacked foot #2, which was fortunately covered up to the knee by a sturdy hiking boot and thick, cotton sock.
that one had a flip-flop, too.... me and my nearsighted dressing habits...
more like, me and my deafness to Tom's advice for Backyard Attire.

yes, Mr. Fantastic has told me time and time again, don't wear sandals in the backyard. be sure to wear, not only tennis shoes, but socks, as well (he had a similar experience while wearing shoes with no socks, and hindsight's 20/20). i never listened, or may just selectively tuned out these words. why? because i like flip-flops. they're handy. easy to slip on and off, available in a variety of styles, colors and sole-thicknesses... inexpensive... need i say more? but i'd like to think my resistance is not just about my penchant for being as shoeless as possible without actually being shoeless. i've grown up with the idea that the backyard is, call me naive- safe! it's the place where kids play, pets roam, birds alight, plants grow, friends gather: all kinds of wonderful, mushy-gushy things take place in the more private area behind our homes. at least, that's how it was in Missouri. granted, folks are a bit more idealistic in the Midwest, me being one of them. probably because the grass is always green (even under the snow), churches on every corner, you know the name of the cashier at the grocery store.... even the ants are nicer.
i'm serious.
when i was a kid, i'd sit on the sidewalk with my friends, or we'd even lie in the grass together, pick dandelions, make flower necklaces, stare at the clouds.... do glorious kid-things. sure, ants were everywhere, just like they are in Arizona, but Missouri Ants don't BITE. no joke. i told that to Tom (AZ native), and he didn't believe me. but my fellow Missourians can attest, you could let a Missouri Ant crawl all over your leg, up your arm without even feeling it, much less the painful sting of a vicious, hateful, vengeful bite for no reason at all. i was literally NEVER bitten by an ant during the entire 26 years i lived in Missouri. not once. not even a questionable incident. zero. nada.
bees, yes.
wasps, yes.
mosquitoes, most definitely.
but these are insects (ants are not).
and these insects have pointy implements of defense/blood-sucking. we are trained even as toddlers to avoid these insects as one of the the many self-preservation methods we will employ throughout our human lives.
i wasn't warned about the ants.

but i have a theory:
Arizona Ants vs. Missouri Ants
small vs. not as small
fast vs. leisurely
vicious vs. mild-mannered

(disclaimer: i am not a scientist. i just listened in biology classes.)

these comparisons directly correlate with habitat differences:
Arizona vs. Missouri
dry vs. wet
bare and brown vs. lush and verdant
2-season desert climate vs. 4-season temperate climate

my conclusion:
Arizona Ants are angry and defensive because they live in a constant state of struggle for food and resources. Missouri Ants are relaxed and congenial because they enjoy abundant food and resources.

hm... kind of sounds like people. you know, Maslow's heirarchy of needs? if you don't know, click on the link. it's pretty interesting.
and, in my highly-educated and obviously humble opinion, applies to ants as well as humans. it would be interesting to chat with some kind of ant-research-person on this topic...

well, this post looks like my brain just puked all over the page. hopefully it is entertaining. definitely therapeutic; i feel much calmer now than when i started writing... but then again, that's why i created this blog in the first place.
i must tend to my sore feet.
and plan lunch.

until later,


  1. I am sorry to hear of this terrible attack once again to your feet. I must agree with "Mr. Wonderful",, always wear shoes and socks when doing yard work in AZ. You never know what might sneak up and get you. I too remember what it was like to lay in the soft cool grass and stare at the sky!! Running in the grass with no shoes was the best and all you had to worry about was stepping in dog poo! Ahh those were the days. Thanks for the great story and the laugh!!!! AM

  2. Yes, it's true. I back you up in that no Missouri ants ever approched me in anything but a friendly manner. Even when I was smashing their home for fun. Even ants that looked red posed no threat.
    However, red ants out here make me a little anxious (they are faster, too, btw). I have not been bitten yet, but Jason has. And I spray them whenever I see them near our house.

  3. bahahaha... you ARE wordy...