Published 9:36 am Wednesday, May 29, 2013

He stepped outside his front door — as he had done the previous morning and the morning before — to retrieve his paper. The cool morning air met him on this round-trip ritual, his left foot narrowly missing a small mound of dirt. It housed 683 ants following the orders of some invisible general as they relentlessly went about their task. Their neighbors, three feet away, were not so fortunate as his right foot came down squarely on the miniature pyramid they had so painstakingly constructed. Without break or blueprints they started reconstruction, seemingly unperturbed by the natural disaster.

Halfway across the yard, the vibration of his 200-pound frame did not go unnoticed by three earthworms buried just beneath the surface. They paused but a moment from their relentless quest for food.

Three quarters across the lawn, his ankle brushed a blade of grass from which flew a moth toward another landing pad as a chorus of crickets provided the sound effects.

Reaching into the paper box, his thumb broke through the outer ring of a sticky complex design of increasingly smaller circles tied together at particular intervals. Its maker, the spider, raced to the center, intent on further shackling his prey, only to be disappointed by the counterfeit vibrations. He slowly retreated back to his abode to await a true meal.

Paper in hand, the man turned to retrace his steps. A hundred yards away in a pine thicket to the right, two eyes set upon his backside, nervously following his route. Though enveloped in his natural habitat, the deer watched with caution. Likewise a smaller set of eyes observed from 20 feet up an old oak tree from the neighboring yard. The squirrel sat rigidly, blending into the bark, as if made into the tree.

Almost back at his porch, the man bowed his head to navigate the step as 54 Purple Martins flew overhead on the start of their 3,000-mile trek south. Beneath them were 16 Canadian Geese flying in formation towards a similar destination.

As the man opened the door to enter, he paused, turned and made a quick survey of the landscape.

“Sure is dead around here,” he thought, as he immersed himself in the sports page.

REX ALPHIN of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is