My dubious love affair with fire wasn't over. (See yesterday's post.)
I was out on the patio, tying to get rid of the ants. They had holes everywhere between the stones. No matter what we did, no matter what poison or traps we used, they kept coming back. So I experimented with different chemicals to see if anything we had in the shed would kill them.
Nothing worked. I tried Windex, fertilizer, antifreeze and more but nothing stopped them. They were the toughest ants ever. Eventually our patio became a chemical soup and probably a hazmat clean-up team's worst nightmare. But I wasn't finished. There was one bottle left in the shed that I hadn't tried. Lighter fluid.
The ants hated it. They didn't die outright, but I discovered that if I spread out a line of the stuff, they wouldn't cross it. It gave me an idea. I started working in a pattern from one end of the patio to the other, painstakingly laying down lines. Eventually the entire patio became a chessboard, marked out in lines of lighter fluid.
But I wasn't finished. I reasoned that if they hated the stuff that much, and I poured in on their mounds, they wouldn't come out ever again and they'd starve. Brilliant! So I worked the grid, squirting a shot of fluid into every single hole I could find. I got to one of the last holes and the bottle sputtered and went dry. I had used the entire bottle of lighter fluid.
I looked down upon my masterpiece. It was glorious, but it reeked. Only then did it occur to me that my mother, with her supernatural sense of smell might figure out what I had done. Only then did I stop to consider how I would clean up the mess. I was alarmed. But, it didn't take me long to come up with a solution.
I decided to burn it off.
I got the matches, stood at one corner of the grid and carefully touched the flame against the nearest ant mound, as a test. It lit up nicely, burning for quite a while and then getting smaller and smaller. But it didn't go out. The flame just got really small. I was intrigued. I leaned down for a closer look.
A few feet in front of me, another soaked ant hole burst into flame. Cool! I thought. Then I noticed another, then another. Soon there were half a dozen ant holes with little jets of flame coming out of them. Awesome! Then one of the flames reached out and touched the grid.
There was a deep woofing sound as the entire patio went up in flames. It was beautiful. It was glorious. It was going to get me killed. If not by the fire, then by my parent's wrath. I grabbed the garden hose, turned on the water and prepared to kill my masterpiece.
My mother chose that moment to call me from the kitchen window. "What's going on out there?" she asked. "Why are you using the hose?". I panicked. I replied, "Nothings wrong, I'm just watering the patio." There was a very long pause. "Do I need to come out there?" she asked. "NO!" I screamed, "I'm uh... cleaning it as a surprise for you, stay inside till I'm done." There was a very long pause. "Uh huh." she said.
I hosed like a madman. I used the water pressure to put of the flames and sweep all the fluid, chemicals and burnt weeds into the soil under the peonies. (The flowers didn't do so well that season.) As it dried, I meticulously detailed the cracks then swept the patio clean.
It took me a minute to realize that the ants were gone. Success! We didn't see another ant for the rest of the year. I was thrilled.
The following spring, they came back.
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