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War with the Anthill
For the lesser half of our childhoods, my sister and I were not even aware that there existed an anthill on my family?s ranch. Consequently, we had allowed the anthill to go about its business in peace for the roughly nine years we had spent on planet earth. It was, in fact, our mother who enlightened us about its existence after a road trip vacation to Arizona. For reasons I have yet to discover, my family decided it would be fun to capture a horny toad from The Painted Desert, throw it into a Wal-Mart pet cage, and haul it 1,000 miles back to Montana. It was only after we returned home with him that we realized we had no idea what to feed the little guy. So Mom suggested we should try ants and, conveniently, revealed to us that we had a large supply in store just 50 yards off the back porch. This anthill was a monster. Three feet wide, two feet high and teeming with red minions of the devil that bit unmercifully. As it turns out, we put too many red ants in our horny toad?s cage one day and they ended up killing the poor thing. From that day forward, it became our singular goal in life to destroy them.
June 23rd, 1999?attempt to dig up the anthill
Lesson #1: Never underestimate the power of hundreds of red bodied beasts to scale the handle of a shovel in seconds and inflict large amounts of pain.
Lesson #2: Under no circumstances should you wear pants that are not tightly elasticized to your ankles.
Lesson #3: ?Ants in your pants? is not a funny phrase. It is the epitome of all that is horrendously (and awkwardly) uncomfortable.
July 5th, 1999?attempt to blow up the ant hill by means of fireworks (required assistance from my pyromaniac brother).
Lesson #1: Always stand at least fifty feet back from a brother wielding a firework stick teeming with red ants.
Lesson #2: Remember to pull your hair back before said brother chucks the stick behind him in terror.
Lesson #3: If/when said stick flies out of nowhere and lands in your hair, under no circumstances should you shake your head to get rid of it. This will only result in the ants being thrown from your hair onto your face, neck and, quite possibly, down the inside of your shirt.
July 13th, 1999?attempt to drown out the ants
Failed?but with casualties on the ants' side
Lesson #1: Never allow your lab, or other form of water-loving dog, to be present at these proceedings. They will invariably want to romp around in the ant infested puddle you create and the guilt that spawns from their yelps of pain is enough to make anyone abandon the fight.
It was July 22nd, 1999, a day that will live in infamy, when we finally achieved victory over the anthill. The morning of that day we decided that our tactics had thus been, if you will, a little ?second-grade?. We decided it was time to move onto something bigger, say ?third-grade?, and it was determined that, in order to do so, we needed to use a tool with more damaging qualities than fireworks, water, or shovels.
Lucky for us, the barn was always well stocked with gasoline to fuel the various ranch vehicles my family owned. We managed to carry a hefty, red, 5-gallon can of it to the back of the house where our enemy sat unawares. We then proceeded to pour out the gasoline in figure-eight shaped patterns all over the hill. All 5 gallons. All over the hill. This was war, after all.
We then went into the kitchen and procured the matches from the cabinet by the peanut butter (Note to self: when you have kids of your own, never, ever, under no circumstances, reveal to them where the matches are hidden), and went back outside to perform the most important part of the whole plan. We were about to commence the anthill war to end all anthill wars.
There we stood, staring at the hill like two generals on their horses surveying a battle field. And, well, I?ll admit it, I was a little scared.
?You do it,? Morgan said, thrusting the matches into my hand.
?No, you do it,? I insisted. ?You?re better at lighting them.?
?You?re older.? She had me with that one.
?How about we both do it?? I suggested. ?Then it?s sure to work.?
I lit mine first and held it between my fingers, beholding the small flame about to desecrate the lives of hundreds of tiny miscreants. Morgan lit hers and we stood for a second more, staring solemnly at each other.
?Ready?? I asked
?Yeah.? She took a deep breath and held it.
WHOOSH!! The anthill instantly roared into a ten-foot blaze of smoke and fire that knocked us both onto our backs. There we were, lying in the grass and staring up at the engulfment of red fire ants with our mouths agape and our faces black from the smoke. It was like witnessing the mushroom cloud over Nagasaki, seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, observing an eagle?s dive, or holding a really big ice cream cone.
?Wow?? was all I managed before my thoughts were unexpectedly interrupted and my fascination with the flaming anthill cut short by my mother?s piercing voice.
?WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING??
Ten minutes later we had been enlightened to just how close we came to lighting the house on fire or, worse, ourselves.
For a time afterwards we were banished from most every instrument of fun on our entire property; gasoline (obviously), the hose, 4-wheeler, weed spray, hay bales, and any animal that didn?t meow.
It?s dire times like these when some kids lose heart and take up knitting. Thankfully, it was not so for my sister and me. As we were soon to find out, one can spend hours entertaining themselves with just a few matches and a furry cat. Remember that part about never revealing to your kids where the matches are stored? You might want to jot that down somewhere.