Many of you have told me you’d like to know more about Rockvale Writers’ Colony, where I serve as Assistant Director. In short, this is a beautiful and peaceful place where writers can stay and work for any period of time, away from the distractions of daily life. It’s a magical, wonderful thing, and since we opened last October, I have met some of the most incredible people and learned more about myself and my purpose than I ever imagined possible.
But it’s not all dreams and rainbows. I’ve had to get tough here. I still have scars up and down my arms from last summer, when I tackled rose bushes, mosquitoes, and various other mishaps. And all of this is just part of the process of making the Colony a inspirational place for others. There’s even a certain pride that comes from knowing what natural wonders one has endured. And it’s a gift. I love it. But as the title of this post might suggest, there are some enlightening trials I would also like to share about my time here. Mainly, the one that’s left me sitting here with Cortizone and Calamine coating my ankles and toes.
It was only yesterday afternoon that I was wandering the property of the writers’ colony, feeling grateful and blessed that I get to work here, out in the sunshine, and the nature, and the grass, when I wandered myself straight into an anthill on the side of the driveway.
I stepped right on top of it. Like a joke. It only took a few seconds before I realized something was climbing up my leg – AHEM, lots of somethings were climbing up my leg. Before I even felt any pain, my shoe was off, my sock was off, and I was yelling at those little creatures as I hurriedly tried to brush them down off my leg, off my toes, off my fingertips. I threw my shoe to the side, where I realized it was being taken over by fire ants. Inside, outside, and all around.
It’s been about 24 hours since that happened, and my shoe is still lying there. It was far better to hobble up the gravel driveway with one shoe on and one foot bare than to even risk picking up that shoe again. It will probably turn into its own anthill in a matter of days. (Can’t wait.)
Once I got back to the house, I stripped it down and ran into the shower, checking every inch for more ants that I was convinced were hiding there. They weren’t. But as soon as I was re-clothed, I fought the phantom itches and grabbed my bag of fire ant hill killer, filled up a bucket of water, and fought fire with fire.
Then I went back inside and treated my growing wounds, many of which are just now beginning to surface.
I don’t say this to scare anyone – we’re treating every danger as we find it in order to make this a safe and hospitable place. But a year ago, I didn’t even know what fire ants really were. I lived in the safe confines of an office and walked paved paths at the park. I sure wasn’t digging in gardens, even at home. And apparently, moving to a farm still doesn’t prepare you for all the hard labor that you’ll inevitably encounter at a writers’ colony. Who woulda thunk? But now, I’ve had so many encounters over the course of a week that I’m locking myself inside for the day and steering clear of all potential threats. Because I’m a writer, and I need to write, right? Right.