At midnight on the last night of reading period and before final exams begin, students streak through the Old Yard at Harvard. The University Band plays beforehand to excite the crowd…
…and sometimes the band joins in.
It’s nice to be home, said Blurtso. Yes, said Harlan, it is. It’s nice to see our hay again, said Blurtso, and pie tins, and cocoa powder, and Blurtsobarn coffee mugs. Yes, said Harlan. And my painting easel and brushes, said Blurtso, and Patrick O’Brian novels, and “Mister Ed” dvds, and Tony Robbins tapes, and patchwork blanket, and phonograph player and 1970’s LPs, and Cutco knife set, and autographed copy of Leaves of Grass, and French door windows, and step ladder to the loft. We’ve only been gone three days! said Harlan. I know, said Blurtso, but it seems like years.
I guess, said Blurtso, he wasn’t a hermit ant.
I miss our barn, said Blurtso. So do I, said Harlan. It’s very unsettling, said Blurtso, when someone invades your home. Yes, said Harlan, you feel violated. What if they don’t leave? said Blurtso. We’ll make them leave, said Harlan. How? said Blurtso. If we turn off the solar heater and open the doors, said Harlan, they’ll get cold and go back to their underground nest. That’s a great idea, said Blurtso. But we’ll have to spend a few days in the house, said Harlan, until we’re sure they’re gone.
Oh, oh, said Blurtso, do you see that? Yes, said Harlan. What are we going to do? said Blurtso. I don’t mind a single ant, said Harlan, but when you’re surrounded by hundreds or thousands, they become unpleasant. Do you think he’ll tell his friends about the loft? said Blurtso. I don’t know, said Harlan. Maybe he’s a hermit ant, said Blurtso. A hermit ant? said Harlan. Yes, said Blurtso, an ant who rejects the frenetic pace of contemporary ant traditions and ant society, and goes off on his own to contemplate nature and his relationship to the cosmos. Or maybe, said Harlan, he’s a scout ant.
Hey, thought Blurtso, this is easier than it looks!
My store is open! said Blurtso.
I don’t know, said Pablo, you may need more flags.
The more you look at ants, the more they look like water… flowing here, flowing there, encountering an obstruction, flowing around it, flowing over it, or carrying it with them as they flow along. And just like too much of anything, if there are too many, they carry away everything in sight, until there is nothing left for others, and nothing left for themselves.