I had to take a break from the hours I had just spent weeding in the garden in the heat of the summer. I was bone-weary. Thirsty enough to pour a gallon of water down my throat. My back ached from all the hours of bending and lifting. I was dirty. Actually I was muddy with sweat.
I sat back, sinking into the cushioned deck chair in the shade, my fingers wrapped around a huge glass of iced coffee. As the dizziness started to subside, I looked down towards my feet stuck into filthy work boots and next to them I spotted a carpenter ant. Now, as you know, carpenter ants are the big ones. But size is relative. Compared to me it was really, really small. This tiny creature was carrying on its back what looked like a giant white breadcrumb that was twice the size of her own body.
This little ant had a destination in mind and was determined to get it there. Well, as I sipped my iced coffee and began to cool down I watched this creature travel across the deck, board by board. It managed to carry this load on its back over every crevasse and never drop it. Occasionally she met with another carpenter ant but after acknowledging each other they each went their own way. My ant never shared its load with others to make the job easier.
As she walked her circuitous path across the length of the deck I became fascinated with the comparative distance and wondered if this was the equivalent of me walking to town or across state lines. And the ant didn’t stop. Didn’t put down its load to rest.
When the ant began to get too far outside my line of sight I ever so slowly lifted myself up out of my comfy chair and followed it to the far end of the deck, iced coffee still in hand. I followed my ant down the steps into my garden. Almost lost it in the grass but was able to find it again because of the big white load on its back.
I followed my ant through my garden to the a pile of sand at the opening of the anthill. After carrying this load all that way, across what seemed like continents to her I presume, I watched it struggle all by itself to drag the large load into its home. She had to widen the opening since her bundle was so large. Other ants were coming and going, some bringing home their own loot. Others leaving to go on their own expeditions.
This little ant got me out of the chair, across the deck, and back into my garden, I put down my glass of iced coffee and got back to work. I wasn’t going to let that little ant out-work me. I think I could hear her chuckle as she dove into her home thinking about the huge load she had just carried out into the garden.