I Talk To Ants

[cross-posted from my new blog Madwoman At Play]


I do.

I talk to ants.

Most recently, the ants that have decided that the sink where I brush my teeth is fascinating — and possibly, the best source of (food? water? lingering minerals from a rinsed out beer can?) — something.

A few months ago, I had this completely empathetic moment with an ant. We had finally resorted to putting out “Terro” (an ant-destroyer). This isn’t usually our little family’s first choice in such matters, but we rent, and we want to maintain the land-lady’s home in the way that she wants it maintained — so we put it out, with a notice to the ants: You can eat this or not; your choice. It’s not good for you or your colony, but there it is.

About a week later, I saw one lone ant in the afore-mentioned sink. When I turned on a light, though, it did something more cock-roachy than ant-y (in my experience) — it scuttled under the cardboard piece holding the Terro.

I lifted the edge of the cardboard, and yep — there it was.

I felt bad.

Here was this little ant — perhaps the last of its tribe, wandering out into the great big world, and maybe feeling lonely (which I acknowledge may be complete projection on my part).

After my Beloved and I talked about this, and conversed about the misgivings we both had about the wholesale slaughter of beings just because we found them “inconvenient”, we stopped putting out the Terro. The ants returned, but in more reasonable numbers, and we were co-habitating with them once again — noting their synchronous appearance on the back burner of the stove at a time when both of us were putting some important matters on the “back burner” in our lives, and recognizing them as totems for diligence and patience.

For the past week, though, they’ve been exhibiting this sink-fascination. At first, I found it almost comical. I’d stand over the sink with my toothbrush late at night and chuckle, “What?! Why here? What are you eating?”

I wondered if it actually was the rinsing out of beer cans, so I stopped rinsing my beer cans in that sink, I poured Dr. Bronner’s down the trap, etc..

They kept coming.

So, last night, when I went in to brush my teeth before bed, there were TONS of them. They were everywhere. I chose to go ahead and brush my teeth as usual, ran the water that almost certainly whisked more than a few of them to their watery demise, and issued an edict to them and their colony as I did so. Here’s what I said (out loud and in my head):

“Go! Go back to your colony, and tell them that, though this sink may sometimes hold nutritive treasures, it is prone to massive flooding at unpredictable intervals — that there seems to be no rhyme, rhythm, or season to these deluges, and a great, fat goddess sometimes looms above it, spewing foamy substance into the frothing waves of these flash floods. Tell them, oh ants! -- That they venture here at their own risk, and the goddess of the great white basin considers the use of this place as a food-gathering location as undesirable at best.”

So, that was last night. This morning, the ants were less abundant, and I thought maybe they were getting the message.

Then, tonight, after we finished watching Inception in my office, I turned on the lights and found a metric fuck-ton of ants where they had never been before — on my desktop (not the computer desktop, the top of the actual desk). The only thing there for them to eat was a spillage of brewer’s/nutritional yeast — nothing sticky, nothing sweet — and I pronounced to them again that I WOULD NOT TOLERATE ANTS ON THE DESK!!!!!

I swept a number of them away with a damp rag, and sought out their path, to wipe it clean.

But I’m still going to break out Ted Andrew’s Animal Speak and re-read the chapter on Ants.

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