Sunday, April 29, 2012

Feeling Antsy

I decided to do a little trail work today, so I put on my trail building pants, stripped off my shirt, lathered up with sun screen and put on my day pack.  

I walked to the end of the trail with birds chirping, flowers blooming, little dogs frolicking, and my spirits high.  There were probably Cinderella birds whistling songs and making flower necklaces nearby.

At the end of the trail, I dropped my pack, pulled my tools out of the sage brush and went to work.   
Two hours later, I surveyed my work with a satisfied smile, and stashed my tools.  I had dirt, sand, and little twigs stuck to every inch of the sun-screened parts of my body, but even the little scratches from the rabbit brush couldn’t dampen my mood.  It was spring time and all was well.  

I grabbed my day pack, swung it onto my back and fastened the buckles while I walked and gawked at the spring flowers.  After 50 yards, I decided to check my phone for messages, so I reached back and plucked it from the side pocket.  

I looked at the phone and noticed two things: first, the phone and my hand were covered with 4 or 5 bazillion ants, and second, I had received no calls or texts.   

The second thing I'll put in the “good stuff” category.  The first thing I'll put into the “holy crap” category.    

I once had an experience with fire ants in Georgia, which I will not describe for fear of not finishing this blog. I had another experience with fire ants that occurred while I was standing in the sand, using the restroom next to a desolate highway at sunset in New Mexico.  That one involved me doing something of a cross between a rain dance and a full-on body flail in the highway.   

The ants today were thankfully not fire ants, although the idea that perhaps these were disguised fire ants crossed my mind.  I do not underestimate fire ants.  I think they are smart enough to sew little black outfits to confuse wary victims. They were, after a brief examination, cute little tiny teeny harmless black ants.  The fact that there were actually hundreds of them on me made them less cute. When I surveyed the situation (my body) I found that they were concentrated around all of the parts of my body that had contact with my day pack, but they were spreading outward to other parts of my body rapidly.   

I took off the pack and revisited my New Mexico rain dance/flail right there on the trail, flicking off ants from my knees to my neck and everywhere inbetween.  After a good shake down, I dropped my pants and flicked a few off from the insides, then I stood motionless and looked for bits of dirt stuck to my sunscreened body that moved.   

When I felt sure that I’d gotten most of them off, or crushed the ones hopelessly stuck in my Banana Boat SPF 50, a thought crept into my brain.  Although I wear tight fitting boxer briefs, there’s a little gap where the waist band crosses my lower spine.  

I gingerly stuck a finger down the gap and much to my displeasure, found two more ants.  The next thought was, “Why?  Why would any creature crawl into my underwear?  There is absolutely NO benefit to any member of the animal kingdom to seek out, much less spend time in, my sweaty underpants.  Frankly, I lost some respect for them as a group.   

Next, I pulled my pants up, retrieved my phone from the ground, and began to beat the pack on the ground, which probably did nothing but upset the ants still hanging out in the mesh pockets.  

 During the trip back home, while I held the pack at arm’s length and pondered the magical ant attracting ability of it, I noticed the bluebells, balsam root flowers, and sweet smell of that droopy bush with the white blossoms that hurts like heck when you crash your bike into it.  And I realized that with Mother Nature, you have to take the bad with the good.  So, while dead ants in your belly button is not something to rejoice about, springtime in the mountains is.