Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Ants Came Marching In

The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah.

The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah.


The ants are back. 


And not the fun aunts that bring dinner two weeks after you’ve had the baby, fold your underwear without judgment and let you nap for 20 minutes. 


I’m talking about the kind of ants which interrupt your weekly viewing of Dateline to show you they can in fact carry a week-old French fry across the coffee table in perfect time. I don’t know if I hate them more for their coordination or their intrusiveness, but I hate ants.

I always thought it was fresh mulch that brought the ants to our farmhouse. This year, they arrived two weeks before we landscaped. Maybe they’re just competing with the cicadas. 


I did warn the kids that anything left on the carpet had a very real risk of being carried off by an army of ants and that sure kicked them into gear. They hustled to pick up everything left touching the carpet, though I had to draw the line when they both threw out their backs trying to carry daddy’s recliner to the toy box. 


That night, peacekeeper Caroline prayed for Jesus to make the ants “nicer”, and warpath Cyrus prayed that Jesus would kill all the ants take them to the back pasture with the coyotes. We’re raising two very different children.


The employees at Nettle Creek Hardware are good about not asking questions. They’ve sold me a plunger, numerous mouse traps of different method (traditional wooden, easy-to-release-while-I’m-gagging-and-crying-plastic, sticky, etc.), a dozen different paint colors for a 1,100 sq. ft. home, masking tape, duct tape and superglue (all three in the same afternoon), and more bargains from the bin than I care to admit. 


So when I marched in on a mission to get the intrusive marchers out of our house, not a question was asked. I was prepared to lie and tell them the ant traps were for Cody’s outside office, but they probably already knew they were going straight to the kitchen. 


Local hardware stores are intuitive. And invaluable.  


We have two boxes of latex gloves leftover from the PICC line antibiotic administration Cyrus required in March, so I got creative. I told the kids that the ant trap instructions required glove use and both children were thrilled to be included in the action. 


They followed me around the house, both wearing purple latex gloves that went to their shoulders, instructing on where they thought I should place the ant traps. One went in my aloe plant, the next on top of the commode tank, third under the couch and the fourth trap rests proudly on our mantle. With a light shining upon it.  


The next morning the first words out of Cyrus’s mouth: “We get ant, Mom?” 


I’m not proud that insects now consume our son’s dreams, but at least it gives him a taste of adulthood. 


Just wait until he learns about taxes. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Bale Net Abode

It was just before dawn, and I was scraping bacon grease out of the iron skillet when something caught my eye. I stood still and studied the familiar but out-of-place colors. Green and white hay bale netting hung from the ancient spruce in our yard, swaying in the early breeze like a ribbon without care.


“How did that end up there?” I thought to myself. Then I poured a cup of coffee. 


Days later, the netting was gone, and I assumed it had finally blown away. 


Then the late April wind came. 


Caroline let go of the screen door, and it smacked against the side of the house.

Cyrus’s hat flew across the yard towards the highway, and I scolded him for chasing it. 

Hair was whipping across my face as I tried to take phone calls on the resistant side of the grain bin. No one on the other end could hear me. The wind was terrible atop our hill!


The following morning, we suited up for chores and walked outside to find not one but two bird nests laying on the ground beneath the ancient spruce. They were very different. 


One was quite large and constructed very loosely, using twigs, grass, stems, and black hair the birds had found chute-side.


My jaw dropped as we inspected the second nest because the second nest was a masterpiece. 


It was perfectly bowl-shaped, constructed of hay, sticks, hair, mud and green and white hay bale netting and tightly bound, sturdy from the dried mud. The familiar green and white hay bale netting was interwoven throughout the natural resources. 


This nest was a work of art!


We studied the rural architecture and differences in design. We reviewed materials and procurement, concluding that if to scale to fit our needs, they would have been $200,000 homes in rural Economy, Indiana.  


But no longer. 


Because on that particular morning after the wind, they were nothing but high-rise houses on the ground. And though I hate to question the strength of others, I doubt a bird was able to swoop down and lift its own home back into the limbs of the spruce. 


Caroline carried the sturdy nest all over the farm for two days, hauling it in her jeep, filling it with rocks, and showing the barn cats. As a mother who works to keep our small house in order, I felt compassion for the bird who had built this home, returned to find it blown away, then watched a 4 ½-year-old tote the dwelling all over the farm.


Can you imagine the work that went into building such a treasure, only to have it blown away by spring wind? 


I suppose we’ve all felt disappointment as such, whether it be a work project, home investment, relationship, or dear friendship, that we’ve poured our heart and energy into only to watch it fall apart.


But remember: 


Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? — Matthew 6:26


Some birds do little more than cover our cars in white, but God still cares for and values them. Just as your value doesn’t change when disappointment, shame, fear, or regret cover your heart. God loves and values every part of you. 


I began writing this early last week and can only finish as time allows. But I wanted to share that as I conclude for deadline, there is again bale netting hanging from the exact same branch in our spruce tree. 

This bird is persistent and hard-working, resourceful and motivating. Reminding us that no matter what life throws at you, there is hope. 


There is always hope.