anthill_haiku

Walking on an Olympic mountain trail heading towards the Elwah Valley is a piece of big geological magnitude… not allowing for much notice of the smaller details. The sky finally clearing of clouds, with dramatic views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca emerging… turning vibrant and ultramarine. Just off the trailside, almost not noticing, stood an alpine anthill. Covered in dried heather needles, all gathered from nearby plants and placed meticulously. The outside material on an anthill is called “roofing”. Measuring 2 feet high and 3 broad feet across. 20 or so tunnel openings punctuating the surface. Active reddish ants all around, darting in and out, traveling in super highways up and down. Anthills are not started each season and left abandoned each year. They grow and can be worked on for years. I wonder how this one is. This one looks like a haycock in a harvestfield.

I wonder if for the ant, building is like architecture. An anthill has an organization. But there is no central builder or architect dictating next moves. Any ant working on the commune has a built-in blue print. Or maybe each individual ant has no blueprint, but is programmed with and executes a set of rather simple “rules”. Much more like a cooking recipe, which consists of instructions… the single steps in a cooking recipe such as “stir” or “bring to a boil” which may not correspond to any element of a completed dish. The beauty is in the emergence of the complex well-adapted anthill structure out of simple instructions embedded in each ant.

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