Thousands of small, red ants swarmed over a dish turning the white into a vibrating mass of red. Some left the main huddle to seek out more crumbs on their own, while others marched in lines over a newspaper from last week, onto a clear plastic box of dehydrated greenbeans, and around the edge of the table following an invisible path.
I was unsure where to put my paperwork with the table so very occupied. I considered smashing my binder down onto the table crushing the adventurous crew that dared to split from the main gang on the bowl and sweeping the bodies onto the dirty carpet. I could transport the bowl and its many passengers to the sink and rinse the entire thing with scalding hot water.
In a few strategic moves I could exterminate the entire colony.
Nah, I shook my head. Live and let live, I decided, especially when in a client’s home. I left my blood lust in the car with the windows cracked just a bit so it could properly breathe.
A woman sat across from me, watching me through sightless eyes with amusement.
The ants were no bother to her.
I completed the paperwork on my lap and did not mention her visitors.
There was no need.
“A pity beyond all telling is hid at the heart of love.” W.B. Yeats
Spring, the sweet thought of sunny days and green grass, the smell of fresh earth and the sound of chirping birds warms my heart. It brings a playful smile to my face and fills my heart with joy, only to be cut short by the insect invaders of our apartment.
Just this morning, I was about to step into the shower, blindly feeling my way without my glasses to assist, when I noticed a moving black line. I leaned closer and closer until the black line came into focus as an army of tiny ants marching bravely from out of a crack in the grout around the edge of the bathtub.
I admit, I over-reacted to the harmless little soldiers. I screamed in horror, despite being a thousand times bigger than all of the bugs put together and frantically swept the whole lot away and into the running water. The joy I felt with the gentle winds of spring was quickly replaced by guilt at the destruction that I caused. I single-handedly wiped out a colony of ants, possibly a very rare species that only lives in the walls of apartment bathrooms. Possibly a species that holds the key to cancer or some new pain killer to replace pills or potions, thoughtlessly exterminated by yours truly, for lack of a better plan. It was my natural reaction from fear to crush and destroy, to remove it from my mind, and pretend it never happened.
It did happen and I’m sorry, little ant nation. Next time, a multitude of ants swarm the tub, I hope to be rational and kind; perhaps to scoop them up and release them out the backdoor into Nature. Maybe I’ll do one better and capture them for an ant farm so they will be well fed and protected from predators and fear-driven women. In any case, I’ve been mourning your loss all day, ant nation, and now it’s time to move on, like the seasons of the year. I am back to welcoming Spring, a little sadder and wiser, but still grateful for the change.
Against the hard bark,
Rough and uneven,
She sat as straight as her crooked back would allow.
An ant crawled onto her knee.
With great mercy.
Today you live,
And flicked the ant into the air.