Friday, January 28, 2005

Rainbows and ants

It has rained for the past two days in that odd Pacific coast way. Dark gray clouds move in quickly from the ocean, with sunny patches of winter light and double rainbows in between.

The ants make themselves at home with each storm and there is not much one can or ought to do about it other than trying to keep the place clean. Pesticides are verbotten in this house but a few years ago I tried vacuuming the ants and sealing the holes with tape and that did the trick for a couple of days. Duct tape is part of our decor. In his memories, Richard Feinman, the CalTech physicist, talks about patiently spending hours one afternoon placing mounds of sugar in different spots around his house to gently lead the ants outside.

Subject M prefers chemical warfare and regularly deploys 409 All Purpose Cleaner when the ants mass around a crumb. And if she leaves behind a few cadavers the other ants take their bodies away. Sometimes they heroically carry the little bodies up vertical walls and through dangerous crossings where they might get crushed. Where do these tiny funeral processions end?

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