Thursday, March 4, 2010

sweating the small stuff

By Andrew Wassung

I watched a line of ants moving up my kitchen counter for 30 minutes today. I was making a sarmie and somewhere between the layer of mayonnaise and the cutting of the cucumber I got totally distracted. Ants are incredible. There are over 10,000 species, they have two stomachs and they can lift 20 times their bodyweight. Some even sleep seven hours a day. What struck me the most though is how clean the little buggers are – they actually dispose of their rubbish, recycling the decomposed stuff and enriching the soil when they process their food. Isn’t it funny then that when I went on the search for these ant-eco facts, the only thing Google had that was eco-ant was ways to eco-get rid of them. What also strikes me is how the littlest little creature thinks to clean up after itself when there are millions and billions of them running around like ‘lunantics’.

This tiniest of things actually recycles its waste, turning it into something beneficial for something or someone else in the animal or plant kingdom. Then I returned to my sandwich-making; I realised how selfish we are, in a new and different little way that I hadn’t realised it before. How efficient and impatient we are. How little time we have to look around and admire the small things. It was no wonder then that when I looked at all the mess my sandwich had made, I felt obliged to mention these unsung little guys of our dirty digs kitchens.

Crumbs now lay strewn across the counter, tomato cuttings and juice dripped down the drawers onto my toes, and the sweet chilli sauce on the knife was now sticking to the mayo lid. There I stood, just me, in a fuss (one of those you can only get into when your sandwich skills aren’t up to par), throwing decent bits of tomato that I felt didn’t make the cut onto my sandwich into the bin, creating more waste in one second than a million ants make in a lifetime.

I thought then about how little time I had left to put the top slice on, cut, and eat my sandwich, with enough time to spare to make a cup of tea, maybe catch an episode, relax and enjoy what was left of my miniscule lunch break. Then it was time - books, keys, a mad rush down the hill. As I left I caught a parting glimpse of the ants navigating their way to my mess. I needn’t worry I thought as I closed the door, they’ll clean the crumbs. If only we all had a footprint as small as an ant’s.

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