ANTS! Love ’em or hate ’em, they are a fact of life.
Sometimes, they are hailed as heroes; sometimes, they are kind of evil.
Ants gather ancient relics and jewels from the earth
Listen, if you grew up on a ranch in the mountains of Arizona as I did with no television, no nearby neighbors, and certainly no cellphones, you might also think watching fat red ants bring treasures home to their anthills was loads of fun. If I stood or squatted on a rock beside the mounds and didn’t wiggle very much, the ants considered me scenery, which was okay by me.
I mean . . . some ant attention can be stingingly painful, right?
The ants carried pieces of sticks, weeds, rocks, dead insects *especially beetles and wasps* and flicks of flint back to their mounds without a word of complaint. Invariably, they took their gleaned goodies straight into the mysterious hole leading into the central parts of their colony.
Can you visualize a couple of sweating ants lugging a crystalized wasp wing into the throne room to show off to Queenie?
I never actually witnessed the ants placing items on the outside of their pebbly hills. Probably, they had to obtain Queenie’s permission before they did any outside decorating, even at Christmas. *just kidding*
Unless they were rebels.
I don’t think I saw any rebel ants, but I thought I saw one wearing a teeny-tiny leather outfit once. Or did I imagine that?
My favorite anthill pickings to take home with me were the tiny hollow-bone beads, little bits of ancient pottery, fragments of flint, and obsidian. Less often, I found miniature arrowheads fashioned centuries earlier for hunting small animals and birds.
What I never found was an Arizona pyrope garnet—an anthill garnet.
Reportedly, most of the anthill garnets (silicates) are mined by ants from beneath the earth in the Navajo Nation. The gems are not only rare but also known to be some of the brightest reds of the entire garnet family. Arizona pyrope garnets were used to make bullets by the Navajos in the 1800s. Rumor has it the Navajos believed the dark red color helped produce fatal wounds. I haven’t asked any of my Navajo friends if that’s true, so I mention it here only as a point of interest.
One myth I’m happy to squash is about the two- and three-carat size “anthill garnets” touted on infomercials and in ads. Though sources vary widely about how much weight an ant can carry (from ten to fifty times its own weight and I lean toward the latter), it’s doubtful an ant can carry much more than a garnet about the size of an English pea.
Ants are Inspirational
Thousands of quotes and comparisons star the lowly ant. Here are a few:
Thoreau said it wasn’t enough to be busy like ants, but that “we should also know what we are busy about.” Hmm, Good idea. I think Thoreau would agree that ants mining red jewels out of the earth is both targeted and resourceful. Just think, they do all that work with no pickaxes, pullies, or hard hats.
Marie Dressler said, “If ants are such busy workers, how come they find time to go to all the picnics?” Why, indeed?
“The ant finds kingdoms in a foot of ground.” ~ Stephen Vincent Benét Right, and yet some people can’t find their kingdom in a ten-million dollar mansion.
David Jason said, “It seems to me that as soon as politicians get in, they become part of this club, and the rest of us, beneath them, are just ants running about. They become besotted with their position.” Who doesn’t agree with that? Ah, I hear crickets, but that’s a subject for another blog.
Ants creep into novels, sometimes inciting havoc
SILKI, THE GIRL OF MANY SCARVES, Summer of the Ancient has launched! Believe it or not, ANTS are the reason for Silki Begay’s crazy, dangerous summer.
Silki Begay thought she’d made up Wol-la-chee, the Ancient Ant Man, years ago on one of her horseback rides with her best friend Birdie. When Wol-la-chee shrieks into her life one summer day on Concho Mountain, Silki’s life on the Navajo Rez changes. With her family pushing her toward more respect of her heritage, and with Birdie accusing her of living in her imagination, she frets single-handedly through ever more bizarre occurrences connected to Wol-la-chee. Before long, she and Birdie will be tested to their limits as they venture into the dangerous secrets waiting for them on Concho Mountain.
Your copy of SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is waiting Here!
So . . . there are ants. And there are humans. Is it true that we would perish without them? Many think so. I just like to think of them as industrious little critters that made my isolated childhood a lot better then it would have been without them. Have you ever thanked the ants for anything? Go ahead. We won’t tell! Hey, I love to hear from you, so drop me a comment.
Jodi Lea Stewart is a fiction author who believes in and writes about the triumph of the human spirit through overcoming adversity. With an Okie mom and a Texas stepdad, her writing reflects her life beginning in Texas and Oklahoma, later moving as a youngster to an Arizona cattle ranch next door to the Navajo Nation, and, as a young adult, resuming in her native Texas. Growing up, she climbed petroglyph-etched boulders, bounced two feet in the air in the backend of pickups wrestling through washed-out terracotta roads, and rode horseback on the winds of her imagination through the arroyos and mountains of the Arizona high country. Her lifetime friendship with all nationalities, cowpunchers, and the southern gentry allows Jodi to write comfortably about anything in the Southwest and the South.
Check out Jodi’s news and her latest everything.
What’s next from Jodi? Another epic historical fiction novel catapulting the reader out of Texas into Mexico, Argentina, and China and into the epicenter of another intriguing human drama. Look for it in 2022.
Other Recent AWARD-WINNING Publications by Jodi Lea Stewart
TRIUMPH, A NOVEL OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT is a 2021 International FIREBIRD First Place Multicultural Fiction Award Winner
If you loved To Kill a Mockingbird, and want a dramatic, different, and sometimes humorous version of New Orleans life, St. Louis, and Texas in the early to mid-century 1900s, all adorned in beguiling plot twists and unforgettable characters, read TRIUMPH, a Novel of the Human Spirit by Jodi Lea Stewart.
Two children are ripped from their separate homes in 1903, one by a secretive Voodoo sect, the other one hidden out of blind fear. Their uncertain fates set in motion a series of events that reverberate decades later. Opening in the Louisiana swamps and moving into New Orleans and St. Louis—this novel weaves together three vivid storylines featuring two friends of different races defying the odds of their heritage and 1950s bigotry.
TRIUMPH was a finalist in three categories in the 2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards contest, won a Readers’ Favorite with Reviewers, and is also a 2021 Firebird First Place Award Winner in Multicultural Fiction.
BLACKBERRY ROAD is a 2020 International CHANTICLEER First Place Multicultural Award Winner
Trouble sneaks in one Oklahoma afternoon in 1934 like an oily twister. A beloved neighbor is murdered, and a single piece of evidence sends the sheriff to arrest a black man who Biddy, a sharecropper’s daughter, knows is innocent. Hauntingly terrifying sounds seeping from the woods lead Biddy into even deeper mysteries and despair and finally into the shocking truths of that fateful summer.
“Beyond the humor and entertaining antics of the main character, Biddy Woodson, BLACKBERRY ROAD has depth and meaning as it explores stirring universal themes that we expect in great literature” ~ D.B. Jackson, acclaimed Historical and Western author
BLACKBERRY ROAD is engaging, entertaining, and a book that is sure to linger with you . . . the trip is well worth the time ~ Cyrus Webb, Host of ConversationsLIVE, president of Conversations Radio Network, tv show host, author, and Amazon top reviewer
THE ACCIDENTAL ROAD is a 2021 NEW MEXICO-ARIZONA BOOK AWARD First Place Adventure-Drama Winner
Kat, a teen, and her mother Take off on Route 66 to escape an abusive home life and stumble into the epicenter of crime peddlers invading Arizona and Nevada in the 1950s. Stranded hundreds of miles from their planned destination of Las Vegas, they land in a dusty Arizona town full of ghosts and tales, treachery and corruption. Avoiding disaster is tricky, especially as it leads Kat into a fevered quest for the simple things of home and a sense of belonging. Danger lurks everywhere, leading her to wonder if she and her mother really did mess up and take The Accidental Road of life.
It’s so much fun to read Jodi Lea Stewart’s books and to be taken away into the worlds that she creates, mainly because they are not just entertaining, but also teach us a lot about ourselves and life in general. THE ACCIDENTAL ROAD is no different . . . and in true Jodi Lea Stewart fashion there is a solid mixture of fun, adventure and even danger in store for this daughter and her mother . . . which is what makes the book so engaging. This is the kind of book you will want to read slowly so that you can savor the journey. From beginning to end, THE ACCIDENTAL ROAD has all the ingredients of a satisfying read ~ Cyrus Webb, Host of ConversationsLIVE, president of Conversations Radio Network, tv show host, author, and Amazon top reviewer