You can see the size of this nest if you consider the size of the chain-links in the fence it is resting on. It is approximately two feet wide and four feet long, oblong.
The texture is firm, brittle, what seems to be the organic material I frequently see ants carrying off (occasionally something I have planted, to my annoyance), and layered as if dipped in mud. On one side there are sticks that are built into the structure sticking out.
I cannot imagine how much time was required to build this nest, but ants seem patient, diligent, even tireless. The man clearing brush on the hillside told me that he gave it a little push, and it rolled on its own. It is an apt photo to accompany a review I have just read about the alarming decline of trust in modern society:
Political scientists say that our confidence in our institutions—and in one another—is running perilously low. Economists see a different story.
My takeaway from the article is that trust, a binding agent of society, takes a long time to build, yet can be more easily toppled than you might have imagined. Institutions, through which trust has been built in the past, may be replaced with a different variety of trust according to economists. As of now, I do not buy it.