Springtime: Fathers, Snakes and Ants

Good morning all,

It’s dawned on me that this is Labor Day Weekend in the northern hemisphere.  We hope you’re having a lovely last shout out to summer.

We’ve had a great day in church. It started with commissioning a lovely couple almost our age, to give up everything and travel half way around the world to be Christ’s ‘Salt and Light’ to some unfortunate refugee kids in a place where the horror continues and it isn’t even now safe to be there.  Such courage is rare and I’m more than impressed.  I’m sure you’ll pray with us for them.

Add to that, today is Fathers Day here in Australia. We had a hurried “fast food with playground” lunch with our kids and grandkids. It was so good to be reminded that we have fathers in our circle. Good ones at that.

It’s remarkable that Fathers day is on the first Sunday of Spring, in this case, September 1st.  Why isn’t it observed on the same day as in the Northern Hemisphere, you ask? After all, Mother’s Day coincides with both sides of the equator. The simple answer is that we’re about to move into summer Down Under, and everyone knows that spring is the time when a man’s thoughts turn to power tools.

And so today all the men got gardening equipment.  All of them that is, except Tony.

The reason may be because the other day I met up with another of Australia’s “deadliest”.  In my own back yard.

I’ve been saying lately that gardening is not for the faint hearted, but Tony likes to get at it while we’re technically in Winter here, believing as we do that most of the snakes are still asleep. It may be a wake up call, though, to realize that a big snake was seen sunning itself on our deck downstairs just an hour ago. We think it was only a harmless 3-foot long tree snake. But as Tony says, every snake he meets is potentially lethal since he injures himself trying to get out of its way.

But back to my own mortality reminder: half hearted though I was (it’s still a bit chilly here), I was doing my best to scrapple thru the dead mulch, pulling and tugging at the not dead grass that always invades everything.  I intrinsically understand in the back of my mind that I do need to tread carefully, but hey, I was wearing gloves, and we need to get ready for Spring.

Head down in the bushes as I worked, I hit something like a live electric wire.  At least that’s what it felt like.

Hot burning and vibrating.  On my wrist.  Right under the elastic that’s meant to keep all the bad things from getting in to me!

………Well, I never saw anything as I looked around and decided it wasn’t a hot wire.  The pain wasn’t lessening as I began to blindly yank off my glove while doing a Highland Dance of pain. Pulling up my sunglasses I looked everywhere for the crocodile that had removed my hand, but no, there was no croc, and my hand seemed to still be attached although it was turning numb pretty quickly.

I staggered over to Tony who, raising up from his digging, gave me a sympathetic glance and looked concerned, but not enough to tell me to stop working.  Instead he groaned a bit as he shifted his weight and turned back to his shovel.

Well…….. not wanting to be a drama queen, I’ll spare you the gory details, suffice it to say I spent the next 4 or 5 hours writhing in pain, not just at the sting, but resonating down in my arm as if I’d been given a deep cut.  These hours were spent  (as per Google’s helpful advice about  ‘stings and bites’) applying, in a prone position, “ice packs and aspirin”. The two of us vacillated about whether we should show up at the doctor or just wait till I started foaming at the mouth.   Later I read that some of the tribes in the Amazon recommend copious alcohol.

Several days later when the pain had subsided and the itching had begun, I found the one Aussie who even cared. He’s our Avocado Farmer friend who’s seen it all.  “Ah mate, from the sounds of it you got bitten AND stung by a ‘jumper’.  Ya shouldn’t make those blokes mad”!

Back to Google, this time typing with both hands, albeit one still cooperating rather reluctantly, I ascertained that the bite came from what is labeled, “The most dangerous ant in the world”, going by several local names, including the simple ‘jumper’, but most often a “Bulldog Ant”.  I’ll attach a link just to fan your horror …….. nahh, maybe I won’t.  It just looks like an ant.  In the notes I found some relief in their cheerful report that only 8 or 9 people have actually died of such a sting in the last few years, but only then because they’d given themselves a heart attack.

Thus making the iconic Aussie attitude, “She’ll be right!” so true. I’m sure my Aussie friends who are reading this now will be mocking my thin American blood and telling me to “pull up my socks”.  Thankfully that can be done with only one hand.

I’m going to add this to my list of “Things I’ve learned over the years”.  Never garden in Australia!

Till next time then ……. you know I’ll be here.

PS  I’m sure there’s a Biblical Application in this somewhere. Here’s what I found in my accordance:

Prov. 6:6             Go to the ant, you lazybones; consider its ways, and be wise.

Prov. 30:25  the ants are a people without strength, yet they provide their food in the summer;

I’ll resist the temptation to add more to those verses, like “consider its ways and its determination to kill you”.

Or maybe, “ants are a people without strength, but they can still take your arm off”

I don’t like ants.


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