Love Affair with a Grasshopper

What you are looking at, dear readers, is a photograph of an egg case full of fossilized grasshopper eggs that a mama grasshopper laid in the Earth 29 million years ago! They were found in Oregon by someone who does this kind of research.

I have been enchanted by grasshoppers since I was a young child. How could one not be? The jumping alone to a child’s eyes is magical! As an adult I see history. I see an ancient being. Ancient beings hold mystery and knowledge. I know when I look at the body, the markings of this creature I am looking at evolutionary decisions that were made over millions of years. I do not take that lightly. Indeed, I am captive to the realization there is no school or being who can tell me in detail about the processes that occurred to ensure longevity and endurance. So I stand enraptured by the lines, the coloration, that I can only begin to speculate about. I see a shield. I see protection. I see mobility. I see intention. I see a vulnerable warrior, a fierce protector. And I am humbled that I am able to bear witness to it all, for however many moments I am gifted.

I first became familiar with differential grasshoppers in New Mexico in my garden in September 2022. One came to the fence that holds my morning glory wall, first on the 13th and again on the 15th. I was surprised to see it back. And to my knowledge it never returned. This is rather my experience with grasshoppers. They come. They go.

Now, what you see here is a second differential grasshopper who showed up in my garden last July. Isn’t she awesome??

I admit when she first appeared I was charmed but did not dwell, most likely because, again, when grasshoppers show up it is usually for a day or two at most. I don’t expect it to stay around. I assume it is passing through. But this one had a pattern to her choices and it caught my attention that I would see her at certain times of the day in certain places. Clearly once the sun was up and the stucco walls were absorbing the heat of the morning sun she would emerge. From somewhere. As it became more of a regular occurrence I began paying closer attention. There were times I would not see her and I would assume she had finally moved on. But again and again, she would resurface on one of two stucco walls, either south or east facing. Where she went at night was always a mystery. Sometimes I would not see her for a few days so there was this endless wondering if she had finally taken her next step. But no. Once I saw her on the back wall and as I took a closer look, I realized she was pooping! I giggled the rest of that day that I had actually watched a grasshopper poop! How likely is that? Hilarious!

Eventually the weather shifted and nights were cold and I began researching, wondering just how long this was going to last! Summer sun was over. Fall was upon us. I asked my cohorts on Critters of New Mexico when grasshoppers disappear, and did they migrate, or…? Folks predicted by October that she probably did not have that much time. They were wrong. November she was still here. Every single day I would go out and look for her. Every day she did not emerge I said, OK, goodbye, little one. Over and over again she showed up. Nights were by now freezing. How was she doing this? I googled What do grasshoppers eat? Grass? There is no grass on this property! Ingenuity kicked in. I had planted dandelion seeds I had lifted from a neighbor’s yard one morning on a dog walk and lo and behold, in spite of a late start, they had sprouted. I began picking dandelion leaves for her which she happily munched down. Later I wondered where she would secure water. I’m in the high desert! I began sprinkling the dandelion leaves with water, which she immediately drank. This is when I observed that she seemed to have tiny green filaments next to her mouth which she I think she was using like straws! And then she would eat the leaves as one would expect. Can you imagine how I loved this? And at this point I’m pretty sure I am helping her stay alive.

But where oh where was she going at night?

I finally found her burrowing down into the bedraggled chrysanthemums I had left outside, hoping they would survive a desert winter. She would hide as far down as she could, and then emerge about an hour or so after the sun would rise, each morning appearing more half dormant, until at last, right before the first really big storm of the season, mid-December, she took her leave. She left her memory in my heart. Lingering questions–did she leave eggs in the soil? Was she somehow related to the one who had come in 2022? Of course I will never know. I remain profoundly grateful for her sharing so much of her story with me, here in our desert garden.

With gratitude and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Readers may be interested to know that, for now, used copies of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden are available on Amazon from third party sellers of books, at reduced prices. New copies may be secured from Gallery Bookshop in downtown Mendocino. You can order from them by contacting them directly. I am in the process of making the audible book available on Amazon and am planning on later making a print on demand version available. Thanks for your support over the years. Watch me grow!

High Desert Skies!

Desert willow in winter, and moon…

One of the greatest joys and unexpected pleasures of high desert living has been the stunning beauty offered by desert skies, which are awe inspiring and breathtaking! I wanted to share with you this morning some of the imagery I have captured, largely from the back patio of my home. What a treasure to have easy daily access to this imagery! Enjoy!

How do clouds make a square?

Clouds by Mary Oliver

All afternoon, sir,
your ambassadors have been turning
into lakes and rivers.
At first they were just clouds, like any other.
Then they swelled and swirled; then they hung very still’
then they broke open. This is, I suppose,
just one of the common miracles,
a transformation, not a vision,
not an answer, not a proof, but I put it
there, close against my heart, where the need is, and it serves
the purpose. I go on, soaked through, my hair
slicked back;
like corn, or wheat, shining and useful.

Dearest Readers, I do hope you have enjoyed this collection of high desert sky pics which has been my great joy to see and capture and to now share with you.

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Note to readers of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden: reviews on Amazon have a shelf life. While nearly all my forty reviews are 5-star, they lose value from Amazon’s perspective. If you have read my book and have not posted a review–or rating–on Amazon, please do. Or, buy a copy! Prices are reduced at the moment! It would mean so much. Thank you!

Plant Whatever Brings You Joy Blog is Fifteen Years Old!

Kathryn and Nana in the high desert

On this last day of September, and synchronistically, a Friday, I am going to do a Flashback on the story of how I came to begin this blog and celebrate that it continues to this day! Now that I am more settled in my new home in New Mexico posts will be more frequent and I look forward to sharing all that I am learning about life in the high desert!

The Story

In the early 90’s I left my home in Mill Valley in Marin Co., and made my way up to the tiny town of Little River, on the coast of Mendocino Co. I simply wanted to “go to the country and get a dog.” So I did. Here I am with Moxie, my first Border Collie, whom I adored, in the woods, on our two acres, in front of our garage and guest cabin and our first little flower plot. Color us happy!


And there I planted a garden, the first in a long while, and this simple act became the inception of what was to become my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden. The path to publication involved more than one agent, more than one artist, more than one proposal, a sale and a deadline, and, a variety of other plans, and unexpected turns in the road, including a complete rewrite, and, finally, the decision to self-publish, as, ultimately the plan that worked involved my being able and willing to assemble the team of people who would get me across the finish line. Whew! It was, stunningly, an over twenty year process. When it was at last time to consider the marketing, I rang an agent in the City, an old trusted colleague of mine, updating him and asking for his input. “You need to start a blog,” he said. “What?” I replied, surprised. “I don’t have a book, yet. It’s not finished!” “Doesn’t matter,” he said. “You need a platform.” Apparently being a book publicist for over three decades was no longer enough. Things were changing. “Put on overalls,” he said. (Like that was going to happen.) “Put yourself out there. Now.” Huh. This was completely counterintuitive to my publicity beliefs, but I saw he was right. I took his advice, in my own style–I managed a hat–

— and began my blog, eventually finding the site Blotanical, a gathering of over 2500 gardening bloggers around the world, where Plant Whatever Brings You Joy became the #1 Most Popular Blog for over one year, was ranking in the Top Ten and Top Twenty Most Popular Gardening Blog lists, and was attracting a worldwide audience of over 40,000 people each month. It was on and through this blog that I met and developed friendships with gardening bloggers who to this day are a very treasured part of my life. Lifelong friendships have been formed, and I hold this network as one of the most precious gifts with which I am blessed.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Plant Whatever Brings You Joy did not just open up the door to meeting like minded gardening lovers around the world. It also served as the vehicle for two amazing social media events–first The Scarf Initiative, [for full story explore The Scarf Initiative category in right column] and later, I made a decision to use the blog as a focal point for helping to save the animals in the Tripoli Zoo in the middle of the Libyan revolution. Yes, seriously. It’s called Plant Whatever Brings You Joy. And as readers have learned over and over again, the book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy embraces a wide range of joyful topics, that might well have stemmed from a lesson learned in the garden, but the intention, always, was to apply those blessed lessons in our everyday lives. The tagline for this blog is Heart + Meaning =Joy. Each individual must define for himself or herself what has heart and meaning, that will ultimately lead to abundant joy.

I am deeply grateful this blog has for the last fifteen years been a place of inspiration to so many–myself included. Maintaining it has always motivated me to learn something new, to go on field trips to explore a new place I might share, to document the life in my garden, as a careful nature lover and observer, to share my favorite recipes. I have always turned away “advertising opportunities” and kept the blog as a sacred place, an oasis, where folks might come and be uplifted. And where they might be inspired. And where they might learn. I’ve included reviews of books I’ve appreciated. I’ve shared my photographs, sending them out into the world where many have a life of their own, moving around the globe unhindered. “It’s just light,” I have told folks. “If I’ve captured something that people want to send along and share, well, good.”

“Stuff your eyes with wonder.” ~Ray Bradbury

I am so grateful for these last fifteen years, and what has come forth, and I look forward to continued exchanges with you, dearest readers. Thank you for your comments, your readership, your subscriptions, your own blogs, your loyalty and love.

Recently I put together a board on Pinterest that is, essentially, a tribute to this blog and to the publishing of my book, and its journey as it continues to find readers around the world. Did I think I’d still be writing this blog after fifteen years, and promoting my book after twelve years? It never really crossed my mind. But the path is still beckoning, and as the meme says, “Don’t quit before the miracle!” Can’t wait to see what happens next. Thank you for being with me on this journey! You are each so appreciated, more than you could possibly know.

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

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