Fall is in the air, and it seems to be coming a few days earlier each year. It won't be long before we're driven indoors by the first major storm. It gets dark a little earlier every evening, and the mornings have a different sort of chill. Preparations for winter are speeding up and taking on a sense of urgency.
The old story of the ant and the grasshopper portrays the ant as working hard all summer in preparation for winter, while the grasshopper simply hops around spitting what looks like tobacco juice. In reality, most of that juice emerges from the other end of the grasshopper, but there's no accounting for the myths of our culture.
In any case, I've been such an ant all summer that I've finally been accepted into the tribe. At least I'm telling myself that's what happened. I have been initiated into the union of small creatures who work too hard and have no sense of humor.
Once again, reality and myth collide. What I'm trying to see as a ceremony of acceptance felt a lot like an ambush, and I left the field of battle covered with virtually nothing but bites.
A hazardous task
It all began early one morning last weekend, when Maria and Roger came to help me take down the final remnants of the dangerous old greenhouse. It was a busy, noisy few hours, but somehow Rubber Tubby survived the toppling of rotted timbers and the human version of ants at work.
Once, I thumped solidly to the ground when a metal bar landed on the top of my head. Maria executed a tuck and roll maneuver that would have left a gymnast envious, and Roger laughed a lot. But then, he did have a few advantages. He could reach the top beams without climbing a ladder, and he knew what he was doing.
The huge old beams that once constituted the frame of a functional greenhouse have become cities full of resident spiders, termites and ants. Those rotted beams have been piled out of the way, along with the plastic and wire that held them upright.
Attack of the ants
When the job was done and the dust settled, I celebrated with a long, leisurely soak in Rubber Tubby. The view has changed in a wonderful way, and there's nothing left that can fall on me, other than the cottonwood tree. There's lots of work left to be done, but it shouldn't be dangerous work.
Feeling wonderfully refreshed and relieved, I wrapped myself in the towel I'd dropped on the ground beside the tub. That's when I was attacked by the hundreds of terrorist ants that had crawled into the towel intent on jihad.
Remember streaking? A fad of the 1980s that entailed running naked through crowds? All that was missing was the crowd. Ordinarily winter is my least favorite season, but this year, being confined to the house by the first major storm is my only hope for survival.
Reach Inez Castor, a long-time Triplicate columnist, at firstname.lastname@example.org .