Morning at the Garden | By: Gary Watkins | | Category: Short Story - Nature Bookmark and Share

Morning at the Garden


Morning at the Garden


This morning I walked out to my garden. A humble plot of ground about 8 feet by 12 feet, hardly bigger than a small blanket of tilled earth. I squatted in the morning sun and looked. Tiny specks of some minute ant species were busy scurrying this way and that, their intentions industrious and mildly frenzied. As I watched I could see the focus of some of their labor. There in the dew speckled dirt lay a lifeless night crawler, one of the tillers of the earth, a giant of its race. It was probably forcibly pulled from the ground by a heavy breasted Robin and then abandoned for some reason. Regardless of how the tubular miner lost its life, it now lay dead in moist earth; maimed and shriveling; its tissues that once craved damp earth rich in organic refuse, now laying lifeless in the warmth of the sun.


The ants found the worm’s semi-putrid condition to their liking. A fat sausage, lying naked in the warmth of soft sunshine and pale blue skies, nestled on a bed of fine tilled soil. Such a feast could not be ignored and the tiny creatures toiled to glean as much of the worm’s tasty flesh as they could. They scurried over the corpse investigating each wrinkle and fold searching for the most tender and juiciest cuts.


As I watched more ants joined the picnic, called by the chemical trails left by their sisters who had clearly marked the foot paths leading to the banquet. They must be quick about this work. Soon the gravediggers would arrive, the burying beetles who would labor to return the ant’s larder to the confines beneath the soil, and there deposit their eggs, claiming the worm’s remains for their own offspring.


Already the winged undertakes were on the scene. Moving over the pantry in jerky, quick movements, the flies insisted on obtaining their extravagant portion of the ant’s treasure, thus providing for their fleshy white offspring, the maggot. All consumers of the dead which in turn produces life.


And the sun, so intoxicating to our humble ants and the elixir of all the insect tribes, it also demanded that the work be done swiftly and without hesitation. By way of the bacteria and micro-fungus, the elite of the decomposers, the moisture of the lifeless worm must be extracted and returned to vapor that would eventually be recycled into the lungs of other earthly creatures and plants.


As I squatted by the garden watching the quarrels between ants and flies, their schedule determined by the warmth of the sun, I thought “how blessed am I”. A casual observer of life… life given by God Himself. How privileged to be a part of this incredible world and to witness His works right beneath my feet. I am undeserving and humbled at such an honor. Yet here I am. Bearing witness to the dramas of the insect kingdoms; peering for just a moment into their secret lives. Seeing for myself what others only read about.





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