Sunday, January 12, 2014

Aardvarks, Anteaters, Armadillos and Ants

So I woke up from a crazy dream and started documenting it.  It happens that while I was doing so, my honey came to bed.  He doesn't care for the sound of the keyboard on my phone as I'm typing.  He knew what I was doing, so he leaned over, lay his head on my shoulder and said, "Last night I dreamed I was an aardvark."  At the time, I ignored him and kept typing, as I wanted to capture my dream.  For the last couple of days, they've been flitting away, so I wanted to record the first one I could remember for 2014.

When I finished, I turned off my phone and lay down.  Then I giggled.  He asked me why and I said, "Last night I dreamed I was an aardvark."  He laughed and I continued, "I kept being harassed by this bright pink cat."  And he laughed again and we started an aardvark discussion.  He said, "Or anteater.  They're basically the same thing."  And I asked that aardvarks ate ants?  He said they did and reiterated they were the same thing.  I told him I thought anteaters had long hair and aardvarks were armored like armadillos and he said they weren't.  And then we were discussing where the two different critters lived.  It was at that point that he told me to look it up, because now, we were both curious.

...If you'd told me when I went to bed that I'd be looking up aardvarks and anteaters at 4 am in the morning, I'd have laughed, politely called you a liar and gone to bed...clearly, I would also owe you an apology.

The first thing I learned was that he was right-- they DO eat ants.  The difference being an anteater has a tongue twice as long and the aardvark has a tongue half as long but with sticky spit.  And it turns out that armadillos -also- eat ants.  And all three enjoy devouring termites.  That these three critters are of a group of 22 that enjoy this particular bug delicacy.  We also learned that anteaters get to be a much bigger critter.

Then we looked at images.  I was right that anteaters have long hair, but wrong that the aardvark doesn't-- it is just much shorter.  Armadillo is still armored though.  And as we looked at the pictures, we decided that the aardvark looks a bit like a pig and a bit like a kangaroo.  I was right that the anteater lives in South America and he was right that the aardvarks lives in Africa.  Armadillos weren't even a question because their natural habitat appears to be feet up on the side of the road all summer long, right?

And as I turned my phone off for the second time this morning and rolled over to go back to sleep, I suddenly thought, and therefore said, "Hey!  Armadillos also eat ants!"  To which my now sleepy husband hmmed and mumbled a yes.  And I said, "Then they'd be welcome in our yard.  Especially if they eat fireants."

And then I remembered my favorite armadillo story:

I didn't see my first live armadillo until I was 16. Up to that point, if you'd asked me the native habitat of an armadillo, I'd have been inclined to tell you, "Upside down, stiff, on the side of the road." Now, the one I saw, I only saw the back end of... but that's really at the tail end of this story, so let me start from the beginning:

So I was 16, and it's the first time we lived in Alabama. And it was my turn to give my little sister a bath. While she and I were in the bathroom taking care of that, my parents were having an adventure of their own.

My mother had gone into the backyard to put something away, but she couldn't see what she was doing, so she called to my Dad to turn the back porch light on. As soon as he did-- my mother realized she was within touching distance of an armadillo! And that sucker CHARGED! So my mother turned around, yelled (Okay, she was -almost- screaming), and fled-- right past my father and into the carport to go around the house. Well, my Dad, figuring he could help, grabbed a shovel and followed right behind that armadillo. Now, that right there might have been the end of that armadillo...except that my father's belt failed and his pants began slipping off him.

This is the part where I finished dressing my sister, and headed to the front door to see what all the commotion was, as my mother was still yelling -- just in time to see my father, his pants around his ankles, a shovel over his head with both hands, yell to my mother, "Kathy, jump to the right and get out of the way!" Then I watched my mother jump to the right as a speeding armadillo fled past as fast as those little legs could go-- and my father threw the shovel after it-- WAY missing it. Then watching, as my parents laughd, as my dad retrieved his pants, my mother retrieved the shovel...and that armadillo just KEPT on running.

To this day, when I think about 'possum on the half shell', THIS is the first image in my mind.


And as these three critters made such an impression this first weekend in 2014, I decided they could be my first art pieces of the year (:

"Earth Pig". 9" x 12". acrylic and ink on watercolor paper. Aardvark. 

Prints and other merchandise available for purchase at http://society6.com/JaninWise/Earth-Pig-Aardvark#1=45
"Possum on the Half Shell". 10" x 10". Pen and Ink. Armadillo.

Prints and other merchandise available for purchase at http://society6.com/JaninWise/Possum-on-the-Half-Shell-Armadillo#1=45
The anteater took a bit more time as I was experimenting with it as well.

"Anteater"  9" x 12" Acrylic and ink on acrylic paper.

Prints and other merchandise available for purchase at http://society6.com/JaninWise/Anteater-0Wt#1=45 


If you'd like more information on them, check out the aardvark, the anteater, and the armadillo.

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