Posts Tagged ‘snow’

The Post – A Soulful Gift

January 25, 2011

A simple poetic gift to you all this morning, from the site: Spiritual-Judaism-One-People-World-United

A path, in the snow
Marked with,
crossed fence posts,
into eternity it goes.
Rose colored mountains,
behind the meadows.
Silhouetted in the evening,
with it’s shadows.

Snowy steps,
searching for the height.
Step after step,
leading to the light.

Life force in all,
one vibration.
Acceptance and celebration,
one happiness,
in our salvation.


The Post – Ants, Baby-Boomers, and the Greater Good

January 7, 2011

The BBC Online just published an article: Leaf Cutter Ants Retire When Their Teeth Wear Out. Now given the title of this post I can imagine you’re connecting ants to Baby-Boomers and protesting that we have better dental care so no forced retirement for us! 🙂  But not to worry.

Quite to the contrary, in reading the article, I was struck by a similarity between the two groups that has nothing to do with teeth, but a lot to do with continuing to have a valuable contribution, even as we age.

The BBC article summarizes research done by scientists at the University of Oregon and that was published in the journal, Behaviour Ecology and Sociobiology. I know, sounds like a real page-turner. But bear with me just a bit.

Apparently, using electron microscopes, they were able to verify that pupae of the leaf-cutter ant from Panama, Atta cephalotes, have mandibles as sharp as any razor blade we’ve developed and hence work great for chopping up leaves. Older ants, however, have much duller mandibles, about 340 x duller than pupae and it takes them twice as long to cut up leaves. Some of the older ants only have about 10% of the sharp cutting material left.

The leaves, by the way, are used in food production for the colony. The ants apparently use the sap for food, and they also use the leaf material to grow a fungus, also as food for the colony. (The fungus is a member of  the Lepiotaceae family.)

Anyways, given that the most labor-intensive job in the colony is the chopping of leaves, the ants have developed a system where the youngest ants do the cutting, and older ants carry the leaves back to the nest. They have devised a means where an older ant with little cutting ability left, can actually make a contribution to the colony doing a job they are better suited for. This serves the greater good by allowing the younger ones to what they do best – keep on cutting.

I thought about our society where often Baby-Boomers want to continue in a career path well into their later years rather than just heading out to pasture.  But often we need to reinvent ourselves a bit – pursue that career from a different angle, use our years of experience as a pro to make the whole effort more efficient. Do tasks we are best suited for.

I have a 30+ year medical and pharmaceutical research background. More recently I wanted to continue using that background but in a new way. I am now volunteering at a local science museum, using those 30  years of science, to reach out to the new generation coming up and fire them with a love of science. It is work I am better suited at now. I admire those my age who can still work double shifts or all-nighters at the local hospital lab.  It is no small achievement. I have been given the chance to avoid that, so I find my usefulness in other ways.

It carries over into other areas of life too, not just careers. It snowed recently and my husband and I were preparing to go out and shovel the driveway. Our 22-year-old son stopped us and told us he had it covered. In a short period of time he completed a job that I am still able to do but which would have taken me much longer. His willingness to step up to something he was best suited for, allowed me to work inside on things I was better suited to do. I felt tremendous gratitude.

So when I read about the leaf-cutter ants, I think, re-invention, and remember my son and the snow. 🙂