Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Ants and the Worm

A few weekends ago, several of us packed up our tents and outdoor gear for a camping adventure at the lake.  It was a promising weekend with daytime temperatures in the high sixties and nighttime temperatures in the low thirties.  A strong wind blowing off the lake cooled the evenings down pretty quickly so we spent a lot of time by the campfire.  The boys loved every second of our camping trip.  They roasted marshmallows, chased each other around the campsite, explored the lake shore, and climbed everything in sight.  At night, they crawled into their sleeping bags exhausted.

One morning after breakfast, Son #1 and Son #2 hopped across the rocks by the parked cars.  After a while, Son #1 grew tired of their game.  He called out to his younger brother.  "I'm going over to the fire!"  Son #2 looked up for a brief second to acknowledge his older brother and then continued on with his game. 

Slowly, Son #1 meandered over to the enclosed picnic table and sat on the edge of the concrete slab.  He put his head in his hands and poked at the dirt with his toe.  His toe stirred up an ant pile underneath the concrete.  His toe also disturbed a tiny worm's hiding place just inches from the busy ants.  I leaned forward in my camping chair and suggested to my eldest son.  "You might want to move.  Those ants look mad.  I wouldn't want them to bite you."

Son #1 stood up and squatted a safe distance from the swarming ants.  He poked at them with a stick as I watched nonchalantly.  Then, I noticed the worm had wriggled into the path of several angry ants.  "Oh no!"  I shouted.  "The worm's getting attacked by the ants!"

Son #1 peered down with interest.  "No way, Mom!"  He called out with a touch of worry in his voice.

"Look!  I'm serious.  See the worm!  He's right in the middle of the ants."  I exclaimed.  "Go little worm!  Hurry!"

"Yeah!  Hurry worm!  You're going to get eaten!"  Son #1 yelled. 

We knelt down to get a better view of the drama.  The worm was deep into the heart of the ant colony's territory.  A group of well organized ants marched toward the worm.  Soon, the worm was fighting off the ants with all his might.  However, the ants were relentless in their attack.  They nipped at the worm and dug their mandibles into the worm's body.  My son and I were gripped by anxiety as we feared for the worm's life.  Incredibly, the worm fought off the small army of ants and escaped into the loose dirt.  My eldest son and I cheered.  We were so relieved.

Later that morning, Son #1 told the story of the ants and the worm to his dad, aunt, and uncle.  He pointed out the ant pile and described the worm's escape.  They were amazed by the little worm's grit and tenacity.  If you think about it for a second, the worm taught us a life lesson.  Even when things seem impossible, never give up.

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