Monday, October 10, 2011

Red Ants and Clotheslines

It's fasinating to listen and observe the different species of birds flitting between the tall trees that surround our rental property. Each morning, I sit on  our screened porch and listen to the larks, chickadees, treecreepers, wrens, kinglets, grackies, mockingbirds, cardinals and more. The state bird is the beautiful, Northern Red Cardinal.

Insects are numerous here too, but to me are mainly disgusting, six+-legged creatures. Did you know that at any given moment, each of us 
                                                are within 3-6 feet of a spider?   
The est. number of different kinds of insects in the world range from 1-10 million.  Yikes!  
                                                                                                       In particular I dislike RED ANTS. 

When I was 9 yrs old, I lived on an isolated farm in CO,  near NE  & KS borders. 

One day my mother needed to do an errand, and said she would return within an hour. She told me to watch over my 8 mo. old  brother, Dee, while I hung a basket of  freshly laundered clothes on the clothesline.                                                                              
She carried my brother to the base of a clothesline pole and perched him on top of a blue blanket she'd laid on the ground. I handed him toys and a small, yellow plastic container of Cheerios. Mom hurried to her car, and drove away.  It was 95 degrees outside and windy. Dee wore only a diaper.

It was difficult for me to maneuver the clothes onto the lines since they were far above my head. I hefted a concrete block from one spot to another, in order to stand on it, hanging one item at a time. 

Diapers, shirts and towels blew out of my hands, so many frantic chases occurred to retrieve the flying items.  I was still crippled from polio with a 3+ inch difference in the length of my legs. To make my baby brother laugh, I'd exaggerate my duck-like walk and quacked. He giggled with glee. 

At first, my brother played contentedly while I tried to finish my work, but then he started to wail. I jumped off my block and handed him a toy. He screamed louder. I picked him up and noticed his diaper was wet and red ants were crawling all over the damp cloth. 

Opening the large safety-pins that held the diaper in place, I was horrified to see hundreds of the large red insects. My mother accidently had placed him on top of an ant hill.

Throwing the diaper to the ground, I hobbled into the house with brother in my arms. Now the nasty things were biting me too. Quickly, I placed my charge into the kitchen sink and ran cold water on his body. Of course, he screamed even louder, but slowly I removed and smashed each one of the Red Devils to death.   

My mother came home a bit later and found both my brother and me plopped on the living room couch, with tears on our cheeks. At first she was irritated that I had not finished hanging the clothes onto the line, but when I removed my brother’s clean diaper and showed her the hundreds of bites, she hugged us both. Then she applied a soothing ointment on our red welts. 

This horrifying experience left a lasting impression on me.     I hate Red Ants. 

1 comment:

  1. I thought you were going to tell me your brother got hurt because you forgot to check on him. Now I see you were his hero that day. Thanks for telling the story.