Friday, June 29, 2012

Ants and Stink Bugs

The first world of the Navajo was dark like black wool and was inhabited by insect people, including ants, beetles and spiders.  It is believed that humans are descended from these original creatures.  As Kira and I ran down a red dirt road early this morning, I could not help thinking of that traditional story.
Kira Simpson
Kira is back to her summer exercise schedule, which means I am on the same plan.  For the past two years she has been a member of the 200 Club.  This dictates a strict agenda of daily outings comprising 200 miles of running during the summer break.  The goal is to build a strong foundation for next fall’s high school cross country season.  Although the 200 Club involves a rigorous training regime, Kira seems intent on getting an extra margin, and is shooting for 300 miles.  We have, therefore, already extended our excursions to five or six miles, with the goal of reaching ten or twelve before school reconvenes.

Typically we are up before the sun so we can beat the blazing heat.  Kira does not talk much while we are on the trail, so I have plenty of time to ponder the numerous questions that confound me.  Questions like, “Is there really a parallel universe?”, “Does the United States Supreme Court actually follow the law?” and “Why does Jana buy organic peanut butter when she knows I love Skippy Super Chunk?”  The latter being the most important, the most pressing and the most confusing issue.

The prior evening brought a sprinkling of rain, so the path we trod was marked with evidence of small rivulets created by the brief storm.  In the early morning hours, the desert insects were enjoying the cool earth as much as Kira and I, so an army of ants and stink bugs scurried across our trail, on their way to who knows where.  Acknowledging the Navajo legend, I was careful not to step on these creatures while running alongside Kira.  Certainly I have no desire to crush one or more of Priscilla’s distant cousins.

Recently, I have become fascinated by the markedly different response these insects have to our passing, and how certain traits may have carried over from the first world.  For example, when our footfalls threaten a stink bug, it terminates its travels and defiantly raises its hind quarters.  Intent on completing their projects, however, and seemingly unconcerned with our presence, the ants just keep scrambling.  Like many humans, neither ants nor beetles seems to appreciate the larger forces influencing their destiny.

It reminds me of the tale of two ants on the golf course.  The story goes something like this:  A man was playing a round of golf, he swung, missed the ball and dug up a big chunk of grass and dirt.  He recalibrated, took another swing and missed again, dredging up yet another clump of turf.  Just then two ants climbed on the ball, saying, "Let's get up here before we get killed!"

We can learn a lot from the insects.  I wonder if they have any guidance on peanut butter.

With warm regards,
Steve, Barry and The Team

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