“An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox.” – Lao Tzu
I was sitting on my patio last evening playing the guitar with a nice Merlot by my side. It was a cool and quiet time to strum some tunes after dinner. The dogs, having had a full of day of play, were curled up at my feet ready to make the move to their soft kennel beds.
Working through the cords of the Grateful Dead’s U.S. Blues I noticed an ant line running from the dog’s food bowl, back, between my feet to the house. For me this would have been a distance of about twenty feet, for an ant, maybe a good mile and a half. I sat my guitar down and began watching this “ant procession” taking place in front of me.
These ants were small, black and very busy. My grandmother called them “sweet ants”. I don’t know why, but this women lived in a 150 year old house, where bugs, mice and snakes were a constant nuisances so I didn’t argue with her about the names she attached to critters.
I dipped my finger in the Merlot and put a sizable drop next to the ant conga line. I am not sure Merlot is the appropriate wine for dog food crumbs, maybe a nice dry Chardonnay would have been a better selection. Within a minute the Merlot had attracted ten or so ants. In two minutes they had the drop surrounded. In five minutes the ants were four deep around the morsel and in ten minutes the drop was gone.
According to a paper published by the The School of Forestry at Harvard University (who knew they had a School of Forestry) “Ants play an important role in the environment. Ants turn and aerate the soil, allowing water and oxygen to reach plant roots. Ants take seeds down into their tunnel to eat the nutritious elaiosomes that are part of the seed.” I don’t know about all that or what elaiosomes is but last night these ants provided me with thirty minutes of mindless Ant Zen entertainment while I wondered, do ants live in our world or are we actually living in their world.
I put the dogs in their kennels, walked in the house and turned the patio light off. I guess the ants worked through the night gathering crumbs. I will let them live their busy little ant lives until they find their way into our house at which point my “Queen Ant”, who is not a fan of the Formicidae family will ask or demand me, depending on her mood, to solve “our” ant problem. I will do so with deep reluctance and regret and maybe with a nice Cabernet Sauvignon.