Friday, March 9, 2012

The Fire Ants of Doom!

It saddens me to announce that my Grandmother has lung cancer.  I have a lot of fond memories and stories involving my Nana, including the story posted last month about the dinner with Stephen King.  Eastport is a place I spent a lot of summers.  My grandparents loved to watch me, my parents loved to get rid of me for a week, and I could entertain myself for hours.  There used to be an old fashioned store where you could buy Root Beer floats and used books.  There is no question that my writing interest was development from my summers in Eastport.

Eastport has tons of stories, and I may eventually getting around to writing about them all.  One story, the one I'll tell today, is about the fire ants and the anthill of doom.  In Maine, fireworks are illegal.  And my dad, being the progressive that he is, provided me with half-a-brick of firecrackers on a regular basis.  Fireworks are nice, and watching them explode is fun, but I've always been the kind of person who likes to take something fun and do something productive with it.  Legos were mansions and fireworks were the instruments of revenge.

Eastport is an international shipping port.  It isn't a major port, but it has had lots of imports from around the world.  Well, somewhere along the line, one of the ships managed to get some sort of fire ants in a shipping container.  I've never seen these ants before and attempts to research them online have led me again and again to ants that aren't native in the US.  So yeah, these ants were unique.  And they had a home just outside of my grandparent's house.

The bite is most notable.  The bite hurts like hell.  They have absolutely no problems biting anything they come across.  If you walk through a field with a nearby ant hill, they will be all over your leg and do a lot of damage.  I hated these suckers.  So, when I had those firecrackers, I got revenge.  I used to throw them down on the ant hill and blow them up, only the issue was that the main hive was built into a piece of stone bedrock (not sure the actual type of stone and it's gone today).

Somewhere along the line, I learned that the ants loved watermelon.  I would shove firecrackers into the watermelon, wire it up like a master, 12 year-old demolitions expert, and set it down by the hive.  I'd go inside and read for an hour or so.  Then I'd return to watermelon swarming with ants.  One light of a match and it was time for fun.

Of course, the first time taught me an important lesson of physics.  Twelve firecrackers going off will send ants skyward.  What goes up, must come back down.  And they did... onto me.  I learned the hard way that if I was going to do this, I needed to run faster.  I experimented a lot with fuse settings, but honestly, the best way to destroy those suckers was to light the fuse and run.  And I got really skilled at running fast.

The ironic end to the story is that the ants no longer exist.  Eastport needed to do some infrastructure work about eight years ago.  When the city encountered the bedrock housing those ants, they had to remove it.  They did so with TNT.  I still can't think of that without a smile creeping across my face.  It couldn't have happened to a worse species on the planet.

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