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About Magnificence in the Mundane

Bringing humor to the many challenges of parenting, driving a gigantic SUV full of smelly boys and their friends, letting go of the idea of perfection and tackling middle age all serve as my inspiration. We all have common experiences, I just share my take on the absurdity of every... Read more

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Summer 2017: ANTagonized

This is the text I got Saturday while on a date with my husband…

“There are ants all over the counter. I got rid of them though with vinegar.”

While I applauded the effort, I was skeptical that the ants had been eviscerated. This was not our first pest rodeo. Despite the fact that we pay someone a decent sum of money to spray our house year-round because the ant problem in our neighborhood is widely known.

When I got home about an hour later, there were no ants that I could see. My middle son was as good as his word and I went to bed never giving it another thought.

Which just proves once and for all that alcohol numbs your senses. Seriously, who was I kidding?

I woke up Sunday morning to 10,000 ants who had taken up permanent residence and were focused on one tiny spot of whatever on my counter top. I then had the pleasure of spending the entire morning with my new house guests. We used soap and vinegar to wipe everything down killing legions of ants and taking their pheromone trail with it. I poured baking soda in the crack they were using for access and all along the door jamb.

None of this deterred them, the baking soda just made it easier to follow their black bodies as they wreaked havoc all over my kitchen. I laid on my couch, exhausted, convinced I was going to begin to cure from all the vinegar on my body.

As I smacked at imaginary ants crawling on me, I realized how much my kids can learn from the ant world. Yeah, yeah, I know there is an entire song dedicated to ants, Rubber trees and high hopes but it is more than that.

For instance, these ants are the perfect example of perseverance. When we blocked one route, they found another. They did not give up and say it was too hard (whatever that sounds like in ant language), they kept going. I saw the smallest baby ant out there getting it done alone and not whining about all the other baby ants that didn’t have to work as hard as he did.

However, the ant life highlights the ways being a follower can get you in serious trouble. Blindly following the trail of the guy in front of you is not always smart. In this case, these fellows got poisoned by all feasting off the ant trap (thank you Raid) and smothered by vinegar and soap. If they had veered left instead of right and struck out alone, they would’ve been harder to find and they would’ve gotten their own crumbs making them the top of the ant pyramid.

Speaking of crumbs, ants are happiest with the tiniest of crumbs. They don’t snub their nose at anything or complain that it is not new or big or fancy. I bet there is a sign in the ant farm that says, “You get what you get and don’t get upset” and everyone just complies.

Ants are sharers. They take all their precious nuggets back to the ant hill for the good of the group. There is no “mine” in this society, it is understood that you are working for everyone’s benefit.

The poor ants are a reminder that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. If it seems like a stroke of luck that this white, climby thing with tasty stuff inside was left right here in my path, it is not. It is a trap, plain and simple.

And finally, take a big lesson from the ant world where the Queen lives ten times longer than the worker ants. Do not mess with your mama, she makes it all happen here in our little colony and she knows where all the good crumbs are hidden.

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Maureen Stiles

About Maureen Stiles

Maureen is the author of the blog Magnificence in the Mundane. You can read her monthly column at The Town Courier.

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