🤶Merry Existentialmas 🎄
Entry #73 on being a doomer and thinking about ants a lot
Christmas did not go to plan this year. I got Covid, which meant all plans had to change at the last minute. It hasn’t been the worst thing ever, forced family time and extra movies, board games and gardening has its upsides.
There were a few days I felt pretty miserable. In my usual paranoid manner, I confessed aloud to Shawn that being laid out with a virus can make me wonder if I will ever get better and feel strong again.
“You’re such a doomer!” he cheerfully replied.
Definition from Urban Dictionary.
And I am, I know. The doomer trait does come out punching when I face one of life’s challenges, like a physical ailment.
So with my doomer googles on tight (and lots of time on my hands) I stumbled upon a clip of Nate Hagens chatting to John Dowdy about the three species that dominate the planet. Maybe the Alexa I don’t own overheard me and fed my mood into the social media algorithm, and thus I got served a menu of existentially dark content.
So John Dowdy was explaining that humans, ants and termites are the only species that:
live in city states with millions of inhabitants,
practice agriculture, thereby controlling their own food supply,
engage in highly complex warfare, and,
have dozens and dozens of different occupations in their social structure to organise necessary tasks.
I headed back to my own little patch of agriculture and noticed that my carrots were looking grey and furry with tiny moving insects on the base of the stalk. This happened last year too. A quick Google told me these were aphids and a quicker scan of a gardeners forum left my poor blown mind in tatters.
These aphids are easily removed with a jet of water, said one gardener, but it won’t help for long BECAUSE THE ANTS WILL JUST LIFT THEM BACK ONTO THE CARROT AGAIN!!
What?! Are these ants practicing agriculture on MY agriculture? Yes, yes they are. Ants actively cultivate aphids in order to drink their honeydew, the sugary liquid they excrete. Honeydew is a fundamental source of energy to ant workers.
Here’s proof from my own garden.
Photo of ants crawling over the base of a growing carrot, with tiny white aphids visible.
I still don’t quite know what to do about these aphids. I think I will leave them alone for now, out of sheer respect for ants.
Shawn and I did wonder where did it all go wrong for humans? A wondering that was deepened and sharpened when the algorithm served me up this incredible TEDx talk yesterday by Lyla June. When you think about how humans used to engage with nature, how we lived up to the label ‘keystone species’ in the way we enhanced and honoured natural systems until very recently - we really have ended up in a bizarre place in the last few hundred years.
And so what to do? Well that’s too much for my foggy mind to compute today, but I have a hunch it will involve gardening skills and radical honesty. Or we will lose to the ants.
That is all for today. As always, I look forward to hearing what you heard, saw and felt when reading this.