Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Well Said: Ants and our expectations

Ants have played havoc with my belief that anything is interesting when known. Having come prepared to loathe crawling things and stayed to admire them, I came full of copybook reverence for the ant and remain filled with the desire to exterminate the last one. In a still predatory world, good and evil are not fixed values, but are relative. "Good" is what helps us or at least does not hinder. "Evil" is whatever harms us or interferes with us, according to our own selfish standards. The ant as a symbol of industry, of social organization, of superb community instinct, has been extolled by science as well as the Bible. But for whom does the ant function so industriously and so socially? No one has troubled to point out that it is for the ant.

... It is disconcerting, too, to be outsmarted. I lost a birthday cake placed on a pan inside a basin of water sitting on a table whose legs were bound with ant-proof "Hoodoo Tape," because I forgot, and the ants did not, that a wire leading from the wall to an electric fan on the table made the easiest of runways.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Cross Creek
I was really startled when I read this because it hadn't occurred to me to view ants as adversaries. I think that goes to show that I live in a city and Rawlings lived in the country, not to mention many decades ago. It does make me reflect on a year ago when ants started invading the kitchen and practically drove us crazy trying to figure out where they were coming from. So I guess I'm not as removed as I'd like to think.


  1. P. G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster had much to say about adversarial aunts. said ants...

    1. Love it ... you are still cracking me up!