Saturday, January 17, 2009


FORECLOSURES


Even splitting as many logs as I do, I'm always surprised when now and then I find living creatures inside one. The other day I was spitting a 50 cm section of hard pale oak, straight and unblemished, with no holes or cracks, and the clean white halves fell apart to reveal a long brown enclave filled with stunned and hunkered-down ants: Armageddon, right there at the heart of a log!

There they'd been, just a minute before, sandbagging securely into the future, safe from the cold, instinctively anticipating warmer days to come and thousands of little ones running around, and the next thing they knew there was a great pounding and cracking, their world split in half and they had no plan, didn't run or attack, scramble or panic, just stood there in shock at the impossible, this sudden intrusion of light, cold and actual weather into the dark silent paradise they had found and made-- not even tending to the eggs! The warriors just standing there, with the frozen air that I suppose always attends the big question...

So I set the halves of the log down on the ground, sunny side up (fine day) to give the little society time to gather their wits about them, find a new paradise and clear out in peace. I can't really preannounce these foreclosures, can I; still, I felt a bit like a US banker. Came back the next day and the ants were still there, but I don't have a sheriff.

Then some days later I was splitting a ca. 50 cm section of red oak and it fell cleanly apart to reveal a wood beetle larvae about 10 cm long, reaching out in a 'What the hell...' sort of way into a new and unimagined air, slowly moving his head back and forth as far as he dared into this unfathomable space where there was no wood, that had nothing at all to do with wood, trying to be where the rest of his world used to be...

The split had gone clean down the middle of his comfy-looking home of narrow darkness, his almost flatland universe, and suddenly half his reality was gone and something inexplicable had taken its place, he couldn't figure it out, I watched him try and try...

He'd been snug and safe and zoned in all there ever was, when half of it was gone in an instant, replaced by light and air containing mysterious fuzzily moving objects like myself - though I'm not sure he could see - he doesn't need eyes in the zero light of his world, all he has to do is chomp and doze and await his great changes - then there he was exploring the nothingness of a vast transformation, probing whatever the absence of wood was, like nothing in his life or history-- His jaws - his best-functioning apparatus, which does everything that to him is worth doing - worked on the air, trying to chomp it, there's always been chomping in his life, that's his job, but this, what is this... looking for wood to grab and bite a path through as always, the only way into his future, but it's too late, I'm the new owner and I have to foreclose...

Again...

3 comments:

Tabor said...

My Karma is not as gentle as yours. I keep thinking I will cross a brown recluse spider or a copperhead snake as I load my wood into the wheelbarrow. I also worry about the bugs that I am bringing into the house.

Bob Brady said...

I don't need to worry about toxic spiders, the one poisonous snake here is very retiring during the day (only seen 3 times in 14 years-- instantly fleeing my presence) and I do as much as I can to get the bugs out before bringing in the wood; my concern May to Oct is the osuzumebachi (sparrow hornets)...

tracy said...

Great writing as usual, Robert!