Be it the folk tale of the grasshopper and the ant, or the appearance in hieroglyhics to represent great numbers of people…
or the namesake for a 1/10 scale off road vehicle by the Japanese toy company Tamiya…
the grasshopper/locust insect is a common element of the over all summer time landscape for many of us…like it or not. Did you know there are subgroups of grasshoppers with names like “Obscure Slantfaced Grasshopper” and “Elegant Grasshopper” and the “Long-Headed Toothpick Grasshopper”?
Neither did I until today, but for my nearly 4-year-old middle son, none of this matters. He doesn’t mind that they jump willy-nilly, unpredictably, and at the last minute when you’re about to step on them while walking down the sidewalk or middle of the road. He doesn’t mind the clicking sound they make when they spread their wings and fly–propelling themselves awkwardly through the air until they find a safe place to land. He doesn’t mind the holes they chew into the lush leaves of my perennials and crab apple tree.
He just likes to catch them.
Yesterday, he caught a particularly old grasshopper…one that was surely on it’s way out of this existance. The poor, slightly disgusting thing was missing one of its hind hopper legs–but that also didn’t seem to bother my son much. In a matter of minutes, my son had grown quite attached to his captive “friend”, naming it Halloween Emily Flower Boy. (Some of my readers may recall the inch worm “Halloween Emily” that graced our lives for all of twelve hours earlier this summer.)
Having been patient for quite some time with my son’s coddling, chasing and doting, the Old Man Hopper finally started trying to get away from his captor. As my son would pick it up, the insect would struggle to free itself toward the nearest plant or shrub. My son, finally growing frustrated with the lack of cooperation on the part of his new “friend” finally pleaded,
“Don’t leave grasshopper! I like you…I need you!”
Ah, boys will be boys. And from everything I have ever come to understand about that half of the gene pool–catching grasshoppers, lightning bugs, worms and (God forbid) snakes is just a part of boyhood. And grasshoppers, like it or not, have been a part of that process since the dawning of time.
As a side note: when our son returned to the garage this morning, and peered inside the cardboard box he’d safely nestled Halloween Emily Flower Boy into the night before–he found the grasshopper to be motionless, lying on its side. “Oh well,” my son uttered as he picked the insect up. He walked over to the garbage can and tossed the bug inside. “He was dead mom, so I just throwed him away.”
So much for nostalgia.