I was in the garden the other day picking a few end-of-season peppers when I felt a tingling around my foot, which immediately escalated to burning. I looked down and saw tiny dots crawling over my shoe and up my ankle. In a second I was at the back steps pulling off my shoes and socks.
” Fire ants!!”
If you live anywhere in the Southern United States, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, you know about fire ants. These teeny devils live underground and make mounds all over the yard. When the weather is dry, they retreat down into their tunnels and you may not realize they are there until you accidentally disturb them and they attack. Then by golly, you will be high tailing it to get away from these microscopic aggressors, because they can sure bite.
I do not understand how an insect so miniscule can cause so much pain. One of my questions when I make it through the pearly gates is going to be: “Why in heck did you create fire ants, Almighty God?”
Maybe God put fire ants here to remind us that the little things do hurt.
I think about the the wounded feelings I’ve had over a misunderstood text message or the off-hand comment that has cut me to the core. Relationships are damaged by a word spoken in anger or a sarcastic remark. Trying to ignore the small jabs we all receive is about as hard as ignoring those blasted fire ants.
I’ve been working on not letting the little things get me down. On the flip side, however, I am realizing how important little things are for bringing me joy.
An unexpected text message from a friend, a former student who recognizes me at the store, or a comment left on one of my blogs— these small perks make the difference between a normal day and a special one.
I’m taking more care about the details at home during this Covid time by putting fresh flowers on my table, splurging on the good smelling soap, and planting bright yellow mums in the garden. I’m slowing down to admire the colors of the sunset, to appreciate the sweet smell of fresh-cut grass, and to listen to the birds singing.
I was reminded of the importance of the little things by one of my neighbors the other day. A sweet elderly gentleman lives around the corner and is confined to a wheelchair. On pretty days he sits on his front porch and as I come by in my car, I always look for him. If he’s there I give my horn two quick blasts and wave. The other day as I was out walking, he was by the road with his son and we stopped to visit.
“I always hear you give me a toot-toot when you go by,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. “I appreciate it.”
Of course, my ingrained guilt snuck in and I apologized for not coming by to see him more often. We talked awhile longer and then I turned to leave.
“You come by to see me anytime,” he called after me. “But keep on giving me those toot-toots.”
The toot-toots matter.