Ants!

2013-06-18T00:00:00Z Ants!By RUSH BUTTON The Times and Democrat
June 18, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Many times, it’s hard to come up with something unique and interesting to write about. You know, something good and original.

One of my favorite anecdotal quips is attributed to the famous scholar, Samuel Johnson, concerning a student’s writings: “Your manuscript is both good and original. But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.” I really don’t want my writings to fall into that category!

Anyway, I want to write about some small inconsequential subject — something inoffensive and utterly harmless. Ants come to mind. They’ve been on my mind a lot lately. They’re certainly small, we step on them in our walking and wanderings and don’t even know it! But, in reality, they, for darn sure, ain’t harmless — at least not all of ’em!

When I was wasting time on some frivolous shenanigans when there was something important to attend to, my dad used to say, “You’re fiddling while Rome is burning!” I have always remembered that old adage. Sometimes it describes my state of mind when I write a lot of blithe and trivial stuff when the true state of things is grim and grave.

I’ve been making a concerted effort to write about subjects that are not too controversial, cataclysmic or bleak, and focus on subject matter that is nostalgic, light-hearted and, perhaps, even adventurous. After all is said and done, if I can’t diminish or prevent any of the “gloom and doom” stuff — the many natural or man-made hazards and debacles that confront us — why even mention them, right? Besides, no one likes a gloomy person.

So here is my small, hopefully harmless, offering:

“If you build it, they will come.” That’s the words I muttered grumpily to my wife when we walked onto the porch of our little cabin after being absent for most of the winter months. No, I wasn’t referring to us or the folks we enjoy inviting there. I was referring to a whole army of black carpenter ants crawling across the deck and up the log walls.

Remember the movie, “Field of Dreams” that came out back in the 1980s? A young farmer in Iowa keeps hearing a message spoken out of thin air: “if you build it, he will come.” It was a very entertaining and unusual story.

Anyway, the farmer finally figures out that he’s supposed to build a baseball diamond in one of his cornfields. He does so, and a famous baseball player called Shoeless Joe Jackson and some other long-dead players from bygone years materialize from the cornfields to play ball.

The farmer loves baseball and baseball history, and these ballplayers — yeah, even wafting in supernaturally from the great beyond — were very welcome in his corn patch. Well, the hordes of invading, wood-destroying carpenter ants — seemingly, from the infernal regions — were definitely NOT welcome in our cabin!

As I stood there gazing gloomily at the busy little critters — intent, no doubt, on turning our beloved little mountain hideaway into sawdust — I remembered that the real estate folks assured us that termites would be no problem in that place. They didn’t mention carpenter ants!

Now it occurs to me that most anything you build will almost immediately be attacked by something that either wants to live in it, eat it, or both! Everything is in the process of being changed, used and recycled! So remember: “If you build it ...

Lately, I’ve been studying about ants, most of which, by the way, are female. There are few males in a colony, and they only live a couple of weeks, while females can live for years and a queen up to 30! The (female) worker ants toil their lives away, while — yeah, you got it — all the males do is eat and mate! One writer stated, “It’s a d--- shame they don’t have TV.” I laughed a lot.

Contact the writer: buttonrl@aol.com or 803-534-3724.

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