Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lessons I Learned from the Ants

For days I’ve been battling ants that are determined to take over my hummingbird feeders. The sugar water draws them in. If ants can think, their brains are saying, “Yummy, yummy, my favorite food.”

I’ve spread Vaseline on the windows around the suction cups that hold the feeder to the glass. That works for about two seconds before a brave, adventuresome ant finds a small path through the sticky mess and once again dines on sugar water. So I spread the Vaseline again, hoping to cover up that one tiny entrance. Ah! Good! It worked. For another two seconds. Then an ant, to prove that it’s smarter than I am, marches right through the barrier.

Okay, this clearly isn’t working, so I go on the Internet to see what other people do about the ant problem. I get conflicting advice. Use Vaseline or Vicks Vapor Rub. (Tried that, doesn’t work.) Don’t use Vaseline because the bird may rub against it and then can’t groom itself and might die. Oh! Great! Now I’m a bird killer. Other suggestions are bay leaves, terro liquid, and olive oil. None of them sound much better, and they’re all meant for feeders hanging under trees, which mine are not. There is an answer somewhere. I just haven’t found it yet. I will keep on, though, because I have to prove to those ants that I’m as smart as they are. Or until the ants’ tummies are so full they can’t drink another drop.

In the meantime, I see a parallel to my writing career and to life in general: persistence. Those little insects, barely bigger than a grain of sand, are persistent. They have a goal, and they will sacrifice anything to reach that goal. Now I don’t recommend being that drastic. I don’t want to end up drowned like most of the ants do. But if I want something badly enough I can set my goals and do everything possible (legally) to reach those goals. Think of the ants. They let nothing stand in their way. I should not let bumps in the road that steer me off course detour me, either. If my goals are worthwhile then give them my best efforts. I may not always succeed, but at least I’ve tried, and I can learn from each experience and choose another road to follow, one that perhaps is better than the previous one.

Who would have thought that those pesky ants could teach me a lesson? Persistence. They have it. I want it. At the moment the ants are winning.

By the way, if anyone has a good solution to keeping ants away from feeders, please let me know.

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