Ants In My Pants and Other Observations
Ants, those little buggers, are a constant, year-round plague.
Mosquitoes don’t irritate me nearly as much. I don’t disdain the power of the mosquito, dastardly carrier of dread diseases, to wreak havoc on people and animals. But after surviving years of Milk River Valley mosquitoes, this inferior breed is a mere inconvenience. Okay, the truth is, I seldom see any.
Ants are another beast entirely. A nearly invisible fawn-colored ant likes my house, especially the kitchen and bathroom counters. I can, with diligence, keep them under control. However, I don’t use a sugar bowl or honey pot. I keep sugar and honey and most comestibles in containers with screw-tight lids. I quickly learned that necessity.
A larger rusty-colored ant which makes its presence known by creating mounds of grainy dirt also has the capability to eat bushes down to bare stems overnight. Just last week they ate every leaf and bounteous flower from my five-dead trees.
I shall always call them my five-dead trees because all winter I insisted they were dead and wanted to replace them. David from Centro Vivero insisted they were dormant. He won. They are quite alive, gifting me with months of beautiful flowers, purple and pink and white. New growth will appear soon but it is a shock to have leaves and flowers one day and naked stalks in the morning. They also munched half the leaves from my orange tree, newly planted last fall.
Another ant, huge and dark red-brown, meanders by my feet occasionally, but I find only one or two at a time. Smash.
I lose my Zen compassion for creatures when I see an ant. I become Super Woman with four kinds of ant killer in hand. Ants are my kryptonite.
The other day I spotted a line of black ants, a thousand-thousand all in a row, marching across my patio. I shucked my glasses and donned my cape and made ready to do battle when Leo, my garden helper, stopped me. “Those kind ants move from place to place. They no eat plants,” he said. I saw they each held a bundle on their back, like people fleeing a war-torn country. So what do they eat?
I let them live but it wasn’t easy for me. Sure enough, a couple hours later, the marchers were out of sight.
If I grew up in a different culture, I might look upon the lowly ant quite differently. I might hover over a mounded housing, waiting for the opportunity to scoop out a handful of the delicious little buggers. Chomp, chew, swallow. Mmmm, good.
It’s all a matter of perception, right?
Like this: It is mango season. Mangoes are my favorite fruit. Okay, my favorite fruit is whatever is in season. So today it’s mango. I have a friend who refuses to eat mangoes, doesn’t like mango, but feasts on my mango jam. Go figure. Perception.
Another friend won’t eat anything slimy. A few weeks ago I bought jaca fruit. It’s even juicier, more flavorful than mango. She said, “Eww, it’s slimy.” It’s no slimier than peach or kiwi or mango. Thinking about jaca makes my mouth water. It’s the best.
But, if we must consider slime, I am quite fond of okra. Not to mention oysters, raw on the half shell with lime and chili sauce.
I’ve learned to appreciate other fruits and vegetables in Mexico that I had never heard of or seen in my northern life. Like pitaya and tuna, the cactus fruit. Or nopalitos, the pulpy pads of the prickly pear.
Mexican friends tell me the iguana is tasty—not the little brand of garden iguana I have in my yard, but the larger variety on the coast. They tell me it tastes like chicken. People say the same thing about snakes. Chickens taste like chickens. Snakes taste like snakes. Iguanas taste like iguanas.
If iguana, chopped and sautéed in butter with garlic and chilies, were presented to me on a tortilla, would I eat it? Maybe. It’s logical. I ate menudo tacos. I ate brain tacos. Liver taco is quite tasty. Therefore, I’d probably try an iguana taco.
I draw the line at ants. Not on a tortilla. Not in chocolate. Not in ice cream.
HDN: Looking out my back door
July 27, 2017