One of my jobs for the summer was to find free firewood for the winter. So when I saw a massive oak tree being felled in a garden down the road, it seemed like a good idea to ask if they had any spare wood. The head man sucked on his teeth, shook his head and said that a lot of it was spoken for. I sucked on my teeth, nodded my head and pointed out that I was only a couple of houses up the road. After a bit more sucking, he agreed I could have some wood.
About three hours later I heard a truck backing up in my driveway so I went out to see how much tree I was getting. To my utter amazement, when they tipped the back of the truck most of the tree fell out. HUGE great pieces of trunk – about 5ft long and over 3ft in diameter – and lots of them.
My husband started to chainsaw and split the wood pretty rapidly as it was blocking his parking spot. Despite the heat, sawdust, sweat and distressed carpenter ants running up and down his legs he seemed to be enjoying himself.
Ah, the ants – I hate them. I never used to. Those little black ants in England were so sweet (except the mutant crazed ones in our old garden that would chomp on any exposed skin). I hadn’t really thought about American ants until I discovered some monster ants marching around my kitchen units when we first moved into our new house. The quickly summoned exterminator laughed and told me they were baby carpenter ants!
It could be so much worse. Last year, my husband was splitting some logs in the garage as it was raining. After he had finished, he casually mentioned to me that there were a lot of white ants in the wood. “Oh really honey. And what did you do with the termite infested wood?” I asked while smiling sweetly. “Er, stacked it. In the garage,” he replied, instinctively knowing he had some more work to do. The poor man had to restack that wood about three times before I was happy it was far away enough.
For weeks I kept a strong vigil of the garage and basement for signs of any intruders, all the time contemplating the practicalities of getting an aardvark.