Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sharp-eyed Spaniard

The guppy pond has larvae bubbling at the surface, fighting for space with the lily pads. Sitting with my eyes on a level with the surface of the pond, I spot an ant. It is a red ant, sipping delicately at a drop of water on a leaf.

It's going to drown, my son says.

It won't. It will move from one leaf to the other because they are all perfectly flat and they all touch each other.

We wait. Only the guppies move. The ant is immobile.

It's dead. I'm telling you, it's dead.

It does look curiously crumpled, near that one drop of water on a dry leaf. I nudge it with a fingernail.

The ant uncurls itself and walks along the perimeter of the leaf. It appears to be looking at itself in the pond but finding nothing interesting, moves off. As it reaches the place where one leaf touches the next, we hold our breath, imagining the instability of shifting weight. But ants are lighter than we think.

This leaf has a trail of slimy moss across it. I say the ant will get caught in the slime and not be able to make its way to the leaf on the farther side of it. But I am wrong. The ant slows down, turns on its side and goes to sleep.

I've never seen an ant sleep. I nudge it awake and it moves to another leaf, another spot where it curls up again.

It must be the heat. We leave the ant in peace and get on with other things.

This morning, the larvae have disappeared.

Elsewhere in the state an entire crop of red chillies has burst into flame. A short circuit is allegedly responsible.

I briefly entertain the thought of spontaneous combustion. Think about it: the heat outside and inside a chilly, separated only by a membrane of red. Imagine an entire crop, red and sharp-tongued, waiting.

I'm not surprised.

10 comments:

lekhni said...

Ants don't drown because of surface tension and all that stuff.

I don't about Moses, but ants can certainly walk on water.

km said...

I read this post with "I'll cry instead" playing in the background. Made for a lovely montage: mom, son, sleepy ant, guppies, pond, leaves....

dipali said...

Lovely post! And the imagery of the red chillies spontaneously igniting- hot stuff indeed:)

SUR NOTES said...

and you were listless enough to give up the blog?
what a lovely post inspired by a listless ant and red hot chillies!

ram said...

Nice. "I've never seen an ant sleep" :)

Space Bar said...

Lekhni: They don't? Then it must be the weight of numbers that accounts for all the dead ants in my water jugs in the kitchen; and at the top of the curd and in the kettle!

km: That adds a nice touch! It was getting a bit sweet.

dipali: They are hot stuff. Pity about the crop though...

sur: Bit your tongue! When did I say I was giving up the blog?!

ram: I haven't, though. Just dead ants.

Falstaff said...

lekhni: Sorry to be pedantic, but it's Jesus, not Moses who walks on water. Moses parts the water, which I'm reasonably sure ants can't do.

SB: I must confess I read this post and all I could think of was Lenigan versus the Ants.

Space Bar said...

Falstaff: Clearly I've had a deprived childhood; for anyone else who had to google the damn thing, here it is, comeplete with such gems as:

'"Critical situations first become crises," he explained to his men, "when oxen or women get excited "'

and

'But now both the European brain of Leiningen and the primitive brains of the Indians began to stir with the unpleasant foreboding that inside every single one of that deluge of insects dwelt a thought.'

lekhni said...

Space Bar: Those ants didn't get the memo ;) Or maybe they just never learnt swimming properly..

Thanks for the link...but do you realize I now have to spend all my free hours reading all the stories on this website? :(

Falstaff: Yes, I realized that sometime after I had posted :(

the mad momma said...

what a lovely post D.... i can just imagine the scene..