It may not be quite fair or exciting to present to you a grasshopper to identify, but here’s a couple from Chip Ross Park anyway.
The problem is manyfold, you see: dreary weekend that has left me uninspired, a cat who has decided for the second weekend in a row that the appropriate place for her servant is lying trapped with said cat on lap (which is less dreary, but completely non-conducive to productivity), and the fact that Foyle’s War is interesting. Also, I’m planning to write something about Parícutin on its anniversary, which means taking notes, which is difficult with the winter blahs compounded by cat-on-lap and Foyle-on-teevee, not to mention screaming at one scientific paper, “But the paper you’re saying said that didn’t say that!” About all I’m equal to is grasshoppers.
Grasshoppers make me feel vaguely guilty. They were ubiquitous where I grew up as a child – Flagstaff sometimes looked like the Biblical Egypt during the plague of locusts, only they were grasshoppers, not locusts. They were easy to catch, and you know what kids do when they catch insects: they experiment. We’d hold them by one leg to find out how powerful their kick was, and squeeze them a bit until they dribbled juice that looked like tobacco at us, and that sort of thing. I tried not to be too cruel, because I didn’t want to be like those children who pulled wings off flies, but there was a fascination about grasshoppers, staring into their buggy faces and wondering just how they work, and curiosity is cruel.
They did get their own back. The bastards ate my Tropicana rose. I loved that rose. It was a graduation gift, and it was a magnificent color that reminded one of tropical sunsets, and the fuckers ate it right down to the ground. There was only a single leaf left when they were done, and I think they left it there to grind salt into the wound. Well, I suppose I deserved it, ultimately. I’d not precisely been kind to their compatriots.
I never did like them much, and bore them a grudge for that rose, but given enough years away and the proper amount of homesickness, and you can become nostalgic for almost anything. Which is how I ended up very nearly delighted when it turned out the open spaces in the oak savannah at Chip Ross Park was hopping with them. It was just like home: open forest, dead brown grasses, brown grasshoppers leaping every-which-way with every step. And they were some of the only cryptopods about. So there were a few times, up there with all of Corvallis and its lovely geology spread before me, when I was down on my knees trying to persuade a grasshopper to hold still whilst Lockwood looked on in bemusement.
If you know the species, you may enlighten us. If you don’t, you can share your own grasshopper stories. Don’t worry. We won’t hold them against you, even if they involve horrible childhood experiments, or sniggering references to the teevee show Kung Fu.