I was in a cleaning frenzy today— reorganizing and scrubbing the back porch, ending up with about 5 bags of recyclables and a couple of bags for donation. JB and I even tackled half of the kitchen cupboards finally getting rid of the endless numbers of coffee cups and mugs past students have given to me at holiday times. It’s amazing how we live with so much stuff and get to a place where we don’t even recognize the clutter that it is, things weighing us down. We so easily normalize the chaos around us.
There is a big black bag I have been saving to cover the outdoor fire pit to protect it from the rain and after rediscovering it, I took it out to the fire pit. Of course, the fire pit was filled with water so I dumped it over onto its side to drain it before I covered it. The legs of the pit are hollow and inside one of the legs was a boatload of ant eggs and clearly lots of ants a lot more frantic than I. It was clear they were madly grabbing eggs and bringing them into holes in the ground I’m guessing into their larger colony underground. I even saw one drone dragging two eggs. This was clearly a crisis. Ant eggs are probably a tasty treat to any number of predators including humans across Southeast Asia. Lucky for these ants and their progeny we were in Illinois.
I watched them for some time in their desperate dash to save the eggs. They were managing this crisis well. The work was getting done. No one seemed to be bumping into each other or even frozen in shock. It was a team effort and the choreography of community was graceful, focused, and effective. I thought for a minute to tip the fire pit back up in such a way to cover the eggs again but it was too heavy and the pile of eggs and dirt had splayed out much wider than its original shape. And so I let the ants continue in their work. When I came back outside after dinner, there wasn’t a trace left.