Afternoon Delights

I am not a lover of insects. Neither am I a hater though. If I cross paths with a spider, I don't scream in terror and run the other way. I don't squash them or spray them or drown them. I don't harrass bumblebees, beetles, crickets...whatever. They do their thing, I do my thing, and as long as they are not on me, I say - live and let live. So, maybe you are impatiently asking, "okay Cathryn, why are you establishing the details of your benevolent relationship with insects? where are we going with this?"

For those of you in Nashville, you are undoubtedly aware of the nearly perfect weather we've been having: blue skies, sunny, gentle breezes, and temperatures in the mid-80s. In an effort to take advantage of these favorable meteorological conditions, I have been taking my lunch to the park; sprawling out on a blanket in the grass with bare feet and a book - a picnic.

As such, insects will occasionally invite themselves onto my blanket and that's fine, inevitable really, but if they get too close to my bare skin, I shoo them away. I mean, I don't mind sharing my blanket, but I don't want them crawling all over me either. Yesterday afternoon as I was reading (The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon), my eye caught movement in the grass directly off the left border of my blanket. I put my book down and scooted closer to inspect the commotion. The movement was being generated by an ant - yes, one ant - and an enormous wormy-grub-like carcass that the ant was laboriously hauling through the jungle of grass blades. This dead grub-looking thing was probably at least 5 times the size of the lone ant. Yes, yes...I've watched the Discovery Channel, I know ants have amazing strength, but the determination of this one ant was, quite frankly, mesmerizing.

I forgot about my book, rearranged myself to better observe the ant's efforts, even went so far as to bend a few grass blades to help ease his passage. The ant would grab hold of the midsection of the fleshy worm and then drag it backwards, over and under through the bright green tangle. His prize appeared very cumbersome...not something he could simply lift over his head and triumphantly march back to base camp with. The ant was clearly struggling with his large and unwieldy burden. He would give up for a second, the grub-thing would sink down into the grass for a moment and then the ant would re-establish his grip and start dragging again with renewed energy. Like I said, the strangeness of the carcass and the ant's tenacity were oddly compelling and I watched the struggle intently.

And then, quite unexpectedly, the ant seemed to give up altogether. I thought he was merely rearranging his grasp, taking a breather...but no, off he went! And left the worm. I'll admit, I was disappointed in the ant's lack of resolve. C'mon! You've dragged that big, gross, fleshy thing this far - why are you stopping now!? But just as I was ready to turn back to my book, I saw the ant come clipping along through the grass back to the dead wormy thing - and lo and behold, he brought reinforcements! Yep, that stubborn little insect was NOT giving up - sorry, my mistake. He brought with him a fellow ant and together they hauled that worm. It took them a few tries to get in sync with grabbing the flesh and dragging in the same direction, but it didn't take them long to work out a system. I cheered them on with words of encouragement. Sadly, I had to leave before I could see them reach their destination, but I have no doubt they did.

Okay, be honest, is it weird that I derived so much entertainment from a couple of ants? It is, isn't it? Ah well....

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