Thursday, August 11, 2011

Were we speaking of Ants?

Anyone who has read one or more of the books in Exiled, will know I have a certain fascination with ants.
One of the rules of writing is 'write what you know', so, when it comes to ants, I just took a few encounters and added a little drama.
Come on!!

Now these friendly creatures are nothing like the ants I encountered.
Three different days spring to mind. I didn't get bitten or stung on those days. A 'hoppity joe' or 'hoppy joe' stung me on another occasion, but made me more wary and concerned because of the memories of swollen limbs and the pain associated with a bite of a 'hoppity joe'.

If you doubt the friendliness of our Aussie ants, check some of them out at...
"Bull ants and jack jumpers are well known by Australians for the aggressive defense of their nests and their painful stings."
We knew them locally as 'hoppity joes'. 

Living on a farm brings all types of challenges. One particular day I was taking the little ones for a walk up into the Australian bush. We ran across a few snakes. Not literally,  I literally STEPPED above one lying beneath the rocks I was negotiating. My offsider didn't mention it until I was safely across. Left alone, they weren't a problem. We all wore our farm boots and I was carrying the youngest child in a backpack contraption. So snakes were ok.

When we reached the thicker brush, I noticed an ant of remarkable size, drop from a branch onto the toe of one of the kid's boots. We flicked the unwelcome visitor aside but when a second ant, nearly the length of my thumb dropped off a branch, I called it a day. To have one fall on the child I was carrying, where I couldn't see it or easily dislodge it, sent shivers down my spine. Give me good old snakes you can deal with any day.

That was day one...DAY TWO...
The next encounter I took on a single ant in mortal combat.

This rather aggressive creature decided to argue the access rights to the feed shed. That's MY feed shed. 

The bull ant or jumper jack has an amazingly painful sting. They aren't backwards coming forward and when determined, even a single one makes a daunting foe. In my book at least. 

Hold on... in my book, a single ant isn't so overwhelming.. if it's not a warrior cast. Oh yeah.. what was I thinking... To meet a bull ant, the size of my little finger had me retreating for reinforcements. My heroes don't retreat!! LOL. They don't have shovels to fight them with either.. but I digress.

Armed with a shovel. Full size. Boots, calf high, intact.. not the ones with holes or splits or weak spots an ant might utilize. Armed and almost as determined as the ant, I began our combat.

Should have been over in moments. Come on. I am a full grown, fearless, fairly brave, adult reclaiming possession of my feed shed. I faced an aggressive ANT... diminutive only in size.

We fought it out... When 'moving on quietly' was rejected as an option, I resorted to lethal intent. The shovel became a weapon rather than a moving implement. No quarter was given. I chopped the blighter in half. The head and thorax, with thrashing mandibles, completely severed from the abdomen and the stinging, flailing stinger.

Battle over you think. Aggression didn't pay off... Size and shovel wins the day?

Think again.

This ant didn't give up.

Two halves of this ant didn't give up.

I didn't believe it.

I still wake in a sweat thinking of the aggression, the instinct, the amazing creature that refused to give up.

The whole experience is scratched deeply into memory. The need to actually mangle both halves, to reduce the fantastic fearless, fighting machine, the incredible creature to a paste didn't leave me feeling victorious. I was shaking, feeling ill, both from the aggression I needed to draw on to face this monster, and from regret, needing to destroy it so utterly.

Anyhow... that was day two...

Day three.. years later... came from riding through the green belt surrounding an aluminium smelter. The ants there, hmm, not sure if they were bull ants, jumper jacks or just oversized scary normal ants grown to incredible siz. Let's not go into the toxic waste they absorbed... but they were so aggressive and HUGE the horses wouldn't stand still, lest these creatures start crawling over their hooves, jumping onto their legs. Nothing would make the horses stop where the nests were located.


How do you think the ants in the Chronicles will behave? September and you can find out whether or not I exaggerate!!

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