…it will be time for you to leave, young Pebble. Wait. That’s backwards…
No matter. Look what I’ve got!
(No grasshoppers were harmed in the making of this blog post. Merely inconvenienced.)
B has a sharp eye for detail, and often catches things I don’t. Okay, granted, I was busy drooling over the rocks in the quarries at Lord Hill Regional Park. You know me – wave a rock in my face, shiny or not, and I’m oblivious to anything else. But I did eventually notice B hopping around, grabbing at the ground. “Wha???”
“Trying to catch a grasshopper,” he said.
Then I saw it fly by me, and the instincts honed by a long childhood of chasing the things kicked in. B and I both spent lazy summer days in pursuit of the little buggers. And, of course, missing. Lots. Which I proceeded to do, until it made a miscalculation and ended up landing in a tiny depression from which it could not easily escape, and I managed to grab it by the wings.
So there we were, two overgrown kids with a grasshopper in hand. And, unlike childhood, a camera. B proceeded to take photos for your benefit. He loves you almost as much as I do (especially when you say clever and cute things about his kittehs).
It was kind enough to hold still during the photoshoot, for the most part, although it was tap-dancing all over my fingers trying to get away from these two freaks. We didn’t hang on to it long. We’re kinder than we were as kids. B was concerned enough to remind me their legs come off easily, so I made sure our specimen didn’t get a leg stuck while being held, and I remembered how soft and squidgy their abdomens were, so I was careful to grip only its wings. When we let it go, it flew off none the worse for wear.
I was fascinated by them when I was a child. I’d catch them, and stare them in their little faces, wondering what thoughts a grasshopper thinks.
Our local ones spit tobacco juice, or what looked like it: when they wanted to gross you out into dropping them, they’d extrude a big blob of dark-brown liquid that looked all the world like the by-product of chewing tobacco. And their mouthparts were fascinating. So was the fact some had wings and some didn’t. Sometimes, I could spread out their wings and study them without the grasshopper getting away. I liked the way they folded like accordions, and the yellow-with-a-black-stripe motif, but I never did think they were as pretty or graceful as butterflies. Also, they made a funny noise when they flew, a kind of inelegant snapping buzz. And they ate my Tropicana rose. Buggers. Still, they were fun to chase around.
And those rough little legs! The back ones have surprising strength. I mean, you know they’re strong enough to propel the insect in some pretty impressive jumps, but even so, you don’t really expect them to feel quite so strong. And they’re very flexible. Good range of motion.
They’re actually quite lovely. Like so many things taken for granted, considered pests, disregarded, they’re quite amazing when you stop to look. Like rocks in that respect.
Now, of course, since I started the post with a quote from Kung Fu, I feel it necessary to end with one, because this is also a good reminder not to take things for granted.
Master Po: [after easily defeating the boy in combat] Ha, ha, never assume because a man has no eyes he cannot see. Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Master Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Young Caine: No.
Master Po: Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet?
Young Caine: [looking down and seeing the insect] Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Master Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?