Sunday, 14 August 2016

Grasshopper hunt...

I had decided to have a day off from the blog today. Well, there isn’t much happening and the garden seems to have reached that stage where it has decided to become static before it tumbles into luxuriant madness and gasps its way out of existence for another year.

The birds aren’t around either which, according to an article I read recently, is perfectly normal as there’s plenty of rich pickings away from the garden bird tables in the countryside. I like the idea of the robins and finches packing a suitcase and going off on holiday for a few weeks. They’ll be back when things get tough again, but it the meantime enjoy your vacation.

Today is very still. It’s that stillness of a warm Sunday afternoon where there’s no sunshine and whilst it is warm and dry enough to barbecue nobody does. I don’t know where everybody has gone, but it’s very quiet - nobody is cutting their lawn or hammering or using a drill perhaps that's why I heard this little chap. It took me three goes to get him; he's a quick mover I tell you.

Sunday afternoons in the market town where I grew up were a little like that. Nothing happening, the streets still, shops all closed apart from Annie Saunders who was always open although she didn’t really have anything to sell. If it had been an American town the tumbleweed would have tumbled down the empty high street and disappeared into the distance.

Sunday afternoon was a time to take long walks; just to get out of the house and away from the shouting. I used to walk for hours sometimes; down to the rec along to the old railway crossing and then along the line even though you weren’t meant to. Sometimes I could walk for hours without seeing another person.

Back then the railway line was a mass of summer cow parsley and grasses. There were thousands of butterflies in the air and hordes of grasshoppers chirping in the grass. They were like jewels glinting in the sunshine; bright greens and yellows, deep browns and ochres and some almost on the verge of blue and tinged with red.

Chirrupzzz… Chirrupzz…. Chirrupzz…

Sometimes I’d take a jam jar with a paper lid and see how many I could catch. They were quick little critters, but once you actually saw one clinging to a blade of grass you could sometimes bring your cupped hands down like lightening and catch them. Again and again I’d swoop, usually missing as the grasshopper hopped, but sometimes getting lucky and feeling the hard carapace of the little creature between my hands. Carefully I’d drop it into the jar then swiftly replace the lid and secure it again with a red elastic band. Often I’d catch four or five, occasionally more, but I’d always set them free when I’d finished with my hunt before going back home to the shouting.

It’s a long time ago now, but I still look for grasshoppers when I hear them in the grass hoping to catch a glimpse of one. I rarely do, but I know they are there and that's why I was so surprised to find my grasshopper today. Don't worry I've set him free in the long grass out back.

Chirrupzzz… Chirrupzz…. Chirrupzz…

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