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!

2 Responses to “Love Affair with a Grasshopper”

  1. What a lovely story! As usual, your curiosity and admiration for the natural world has taken you into yet another interesting world. Thanks!

  2. Oh, thanks, Marsha! Appreciate your comments! Kathryn xoxo

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