Once we are born, our limited view of the world is only that which is shown to us by nearby adults and siblings. We live in a world of giants, and are only able to express our wants and needs through expression, movement, and vocalization. If we are fortunate, we are loved and every need is fulfilled with kindness and joy. If we are unlucky, our world can be one of misery. In any case, we are completely dependent on others in the beginning.
As we grow, we become more independent, and more aware of our surroundings. The larger world then becomes our community, including all the things that live and grow therein. Regardless of the love or lack of it in our life, there are other living things and inanimate objects we can relate to. Some readily come to mind from my youth.
There were several dens of red ants in my grandmother’s large chicken yard. Unlike the constantly angry fire ants we avoided, red ants calmly go about their daily business, bothering no one, unless you unduly disturb them. From little round hole, surrounded by a small mound of soil from their excavation of their home, they emerge on a daily quest for food. Returning ants carry seeds and other food to feed the queen, deep within. I’ve sat nearby, observing them busily going about their business of living, for hours at a time, fascinated by the simple industry of the colony.
Horned toads, with their flat bodies and two spikes adorning their heads, were fun to catch when I was a young sprout. My brothers and I used to turn them on their backs and rub their tummies to put them into a sleepy trance. Yes, we gently rubbed their tummies, and they would cease to struggle, closing their eyes and to all appearances, they would go to sleep. I say “appearances”, because now, as an adult, I suspect their thought was, “I am going to die”, and would shut their eyes, waiting for the inevitable.
Doodlebugs, more properly called Ant Lions, created cone-shaped pits in dusty dirt. Each lurked at the bottom of their small trap, awaiting the fall of an unlucky insect, to be captured quickly for a tasty meal. My brother and I would tickle the sides of the cone, enticing the doodle bug to come out, all the while singing a chant, “Doodlebug, doodlebug, come out, come out, your house is on fire”, and other such childhood sing-song. You had to be quick to catch the wily creature and once caught, they were quick to escape the unwary.
Who in their right mind dared to confront a yellow jacket nest? I was that fool and occasionally paid the price with a painful sting. When approached, they face the intruder on high alert, wings out, ready to spring into action. I loved watching them move about as I changed position, attempting to stay just far enough away to cause them to remain on the nest without attacking. If I got a little too close, it became a race to see if I could get away before being nailed by an angry soldier.
My world as a child revolved around school, home, community, and creatures and things, within a close environment. I had yet to participate in the greater world of country, nations and geopolitics. I no longer have hours to spend with the same entertainments, though I do undertake other simple pleasures. Life with my broader world has too many challenges to doodle for hours at a time!