(originally posted 1/8/2013)
Been one of those weeks. I should have seen it coming but there was no way you can see something like this coming.
I like a good fire in the winter and yesterday it was as cold as a hooker’s heart and twice as dead outside so I grabbed some wood and headed inside to get things started.
At this point I guess I should point out that I buy my wood in chords. Big ol’ trucks come by and dump a small forest in my driveway and I carry it round back and stack it high. I do this because I like good aged wood, none of that green stuff will work for me.
This year I was really getting to the bottom of the pile and was thinking I needed to call and order up another fleet of trucks. The wood I grabbed yesterday must have been sitting there for well over two years.
And that, in retrospect, wasn’t a great thing.
Funny thing was I didn’t notice until I got inside and was starting to stack it in the fireplace.
Lots of ants.
Big ants… some of them winged.
Turns out this colony of ants had settled down quite comfortably in the logs I had taken and now they were pouring out of their recently relocated digs and into my living room. Literally hundreds of them and they immediately spread out and began exploring. I about passed out.
Not so much because it was gross to have a sea of ants covering every square inch but the idea that they couldn’t stay and it was far too cold outside to simply scoop them up and toss them back out into the great outdoors. I was going to have to vacuum them all up.
By the time I got the vacuum they were crawling everywhere so I didn’t feel as bad about sucking them up into oblivion. In fact, if I am to be 100% honest, it was actually fun.
But no matter how many I sucked up there were always more. Always that one little guy creeping along by the edge of the carpet or hanging upside down under the lip of the fireplace.
Before I could continue my hunt it was time to get the fire going. Inevitably this meant making the ants home one of the primary players in my fire plot. Once things started to get going I could hear the hiss and pop of every tenant that was unable to vacate the structure in time.
Now my fire was not only providing a cheery glow to the room but drama on a scale I had never anticipated. Every few minutes I would see an ant come crawling out of the log and then start to run back and forth on the top of the log like some dwindling life boat. Their little antenna working overtime to save them from a fiery demise.
Nature really does save the coolest things for the animals. Antenna rock. Same with blowholes. Tell me having a blowhole wouldn’t be cool as shit… right on the top of your head so you can sit under the water then just pop the top of your head up and grab a quick breath.
How weird would that feel? You’d be breathing right through your brain. Literally, your brain would be surrounding the windpipe so that would have to feel pretty funky. Of course we seem to sense the world from behind our eyes so maybe I’m exaggerating the whole ‘through the brain’ effect but I’m sure it would be odd.
If you wanted to pout a blowhole would be awesome as well. Just stand at the bottom of the pool all day with only the top of your head popping up every minute.
“Has she come out of the pool yet?”
“Nope. Been in there all day. Nothing but a little spray from her blowhole.”
“Boy, she is in a bad mood.”
But I digress.
It was the most horribly wonderful show you could imagine. At one point two of the ants ran into each other, touched antenna in a way that made me fairly certain they said “can you believe this shit?” and then both wandered off to eventually topple into open flames. Out of the metaphorical frying pan and into the very real fire. I was witness to some mini-forest-fire recreation that left me completely sure that ‘What to do in a Fire’ is not a class that many ants have taken.
Finally, just when I thought everything was done and I could resume my life again one little dusty heroic ant struggled to the top of the burning log. I could almost hear him coughing and hacking from the smoke. Summoning all his dwindling strength he ran off the edge and bounced off another log and then another and somehow plummeted and disappeared into the soot and glowing embers underneath.
A couple seconds later I see this little disturbance in the ash and who crawls out but this very same ant. Weaving through the chunks of red-hot wood he finally, after stopping and starting numerous times, makes his way out of danger and onto the little ledge in front of the fireplace.
Where I vacuum him up.
Obviously I didn’t feel good about this but I couldn’t have ants running around my house. The episode was the complete opposite of the “the fire was so delightful” vibe I started out going for.