Need exercise? Step on a nest of fire ants

A long time ago, when I was 4 or 5 years old, we used to go berry picking in a wild field near our home. The field is all houses now, but then it was heavy with strawberries, sweet, juicy and warm from the sun.   One for the basket, one for the mouth…. But when you are only 4 or 5 years old, you can get tired out there in the sun. So I sat down. On an antnest. I got up fast, spilled my berries, and started to cry. That’s how I learned that you don’t sit down on ant nests.

Fast forward to this morning in the Victoria Torleygarden. I didn’t sit on the ant nest, honest I didn’t. I don’t sit on ant nests.

Evidently, though, stepping in one
is just as bad if the nest is fire ants.

Understand, I don’t dislike fire ants…much. I mean, there they are, minding their own business (which does not involve chewing on my rose or hibiscus leaves), when a giant tromps on their home and flattens them. So they swarm up the giant and start biting. Who can blame them?

Mostly, this giant can avoid fire ants. The mounds are usually easy to see – brown earth popping up in green lawn – but these ants were on freshly turned earth. Brown on brown is not quite as easy to see. Anyway, the giant started swatting (and swearing) and hopping around like a maniac, dropped everything and ran for the shower and the medicine cabinet. Relief.

It just reminded me of how many times in our lives we have the opportunity to learn the same lesson or different forms of that lesson. Don’t plant shade plants in the sun and don’t plant shade plants in the shade and then cut down the shade tree are two of my favorites. Of course, there is nothing to stop your neighbor from cutting down the tree that provides your shade, so be flexible.

But the biggest gardening lesson I have learned – and I learned in just once and it took – never ever plant running bamboo. Just don’t. Some unwise gardener planted it in the yard of the home we bought in Georgia. It was a great screen between our home and the neighboring home. Then it came up in the driveway. And the backyard. And the neighbor’s yard, and her neighbor’s yard. It appeared across the street (don’t ask me how).

We all have lessons to be learned and we can learn from others. My big lesson? Don’t plant running bamboo. Although, if I had a small lake with an island in the middle…..nah.

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