12 August, 2007

The fire ants welcome me back


We returned to Hattiesburg Thursday. The first order of business was to reopen the water valve, as I had shut it before leaving for Russia. I went inside, grabbed the wrench, and walked back out to the water meter.

The water meter's cover broke long before I moved here, so it's essentially a hole in the ground into which water and soil flow during the rains. The clay tends to cover both the meter and the valve, so I had to dig it out of the way. It's a good thing that a crescent wrench is shaped like a shovel.

Once I started digging, the local fire ants sent a welcoming committee. Boy, were they happy to see me! I don't think I've seen so many fire ants before, and all of them wanted to shake my hand and express their delight at my return. I was a little busy for pleasantries, so I did my best to decline the invitations. Shortly after, I found the valve, opened it, and heard water start flowing through it and towards the house.

I thought I had brushed off all of the welcoming party while they were still approaching up the wrench, except for one who made it onto my hand. I thought I brushed it off before it performed its act of charity, but clearly I didn't brush it off quickly enough. It deposited two welcoming gifts on my right hand, between the thumb and the wrist. Later that evening, the area began to itch; then it swelled and reddened. The swelling has died down since then, but two ugly yellow lumps remain.

On an unrelated note which I will force to relate anyway, last week's Daily Press featured an article inspired by Michael Vick's dogfighting troubles. The article questioned our outrage at mistreatment of dogs, when our mistreatment of cows is met with boredom. Two large, sad faces with tender eyes stared out at the reader: one of a dog, and one of a cow. The precise nature of the mistreatment was never stated, but the basic complaing was that eating one and treating the other like a member of the family is, well, irrational.

Personally, I've never seen a guard cow, but perhaps we humans simply haven't tried enough. Still, I suspect I'll never see an article lamenting the far more abominable manner that we treat fire ants. Since none of the save-the-animals brigade is likely to place a photo of a cute, cuddly dog next to that of a, um, "cute, cuddly" fire ant, I've taken the liberty of putting all three together. Are you able to see all three as good? God does.

*The image on the right is copyright discoverlife.org, which allows non-commercial reproduction with attribution. The image in the middle is copyright Otto Normalverbraucher, who has allowed anyone to reproduce it with attribution. The image on the left is public domain.

1 comment:

Clemens said...

As one who grew up around herds of cows, and occasionally had to help milk them, I can see why we prefer dogs.