Posted tagged ‘grasshoppers’

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”. . . “It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine . . .”

April 8, 2017

Today is another beautiful spring day with lots of sunshine. It is cooler than yesterday but not by much. I was out with Gracie for a while. She had a tough morning. The inside stairs were too slippery so I grabbed and held on until she got her footing on a mat I had moved from one step to another. That worked so I’m hoping the other mats arrive so she can feel safe going down all the steps.

My street is quiet. Earlier I could hear machine noises. When I went to get the papers, I noticed the trucks. My neighbors are having their yards cleared. That screams spring to me.

When I was a kid, I loved the woods and the field below my house. The field was a square surrounded by woods on three sides. One wooded side led to the swamp. We’d follow a path which started where the field ended, and the swamp was just a short way. Another path led to the right and the water tower. The third side was just woods. In winter the field was brown. No grasshoppers jumped when we walked through the dead grass. That was summer. In winter the field was just a route to the swamp.

That field, those woods and the swamp are gone. Brick buildings with apartments for the elderly have taken their place. My grandmother lived in one building where the woods with no path once stood. We buried our turtle in those woods, under two trees we knew we’d remember. We never thought all of it would be gone. I used to think about that turtle when I’d go with my father to visit my grandmother. The entrance to my grandmother’s street was about where I’d buried my turtle expecting it would rest under those two trees for eternity. Even the trees are gone.

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.”

April 28, 2016

Though it is still chilly, I think spring has started to take hold. When I went to get the papers, I stayed outside a while to listen to the birds. Their songs filled the air from everywhere.

Gracie has been outside most of the morning. She lies in the sun on the deck until her fur is hot to the touch, and she has started panting from the heat. She comes inside, waits for a small treat then goes into her crate for a bit of a nap. She and I are going to the dump later.

Yesterday was a busy day for me mostly picking up Coke cans. I was in the cellar looking for a wooden box when I knocked the bags of cans over. The open bag fell and cans went everywhere. I picked them up and put them back into the bag only to have them fall one more time. I didn’t complain because in picking up the cans I found an old wooden box once used for storing cranberries. It was exactly what I was looking for. It is now in the kitchen and already filled.

My daytimes are people-less and quiet. Dogs, including Gracie, bark and they and the birds make the only sounds. I do hear cars going down the other street but not so many during working hours. Winter is the quietest season but this, now, the in-between season, is almost as quiet, but all that will change too enough. In summer the noise will seem endless, but now it is only in the afternoons when the kids get home from school. On good days like today, they play in the street, and they are not quiet. They don’t speak in normal tones. Everything has to be yelled from one kid to another. I don’t know if yesterday was bike or scooter day. I just know it was loud.

When I was growing up, my neighborhood was filled with kids. The younger ones stayed around the backyards under the watchful eyes of mothers looking out kitchen windows. We older kids roamed sometimes on our bikes and sometimes on foot. We made forts in the woods and sustained ourselves with blueberries picked from the bushes on the sunny side of the path in those woods.

The path was brown grass in-between two parts of the woods. At one end of the path was the water tower. The other end was the field below my house. That’s where we used to catch grasshoppers and fireflies and where we’d play tag or red rover. I can still see in my mind’s eye the grasshoppers jumping up in front of us as we ran through the field. I remember the sounds they made.

I think I grew up in the best of all places at the best of all times.

“Don’t try to make me grow up before my time…”

July 26, 2015

Today is overcast and dark and the air has a damp chill. It feels as if rain is pending. I hope so. It has been too long since the last rain fell.

Last night was perfect for movie night. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. Goldilocks would have found it just right. The crowd liked Breaking Away and they clapped when the Cutters won.

I lived in a project from the time I was five until I was sixteen. It was in my small town and back then the word project had no stigma attached. We never thought twice about calling it the project when we talked about where we lived. Even now, when my sisters and I remember growing up, we start our memories with, “In the project…” The houses were all duplexes made of wood. The front yards had lawns, bushes and flower gardens. We lived in a corner duplex so we had a huge front yard with a small hill leading to the sidewalk and the street. All the backyards had clotheslines, and each side of the duplex had two of those clotheslines. In the middle of the backyards, between the sets of duplexes and behind the clotheslines, was a grass-covered hill, perfect for little kids to sled on in winter and to slip ‘n slide on in summer. The project was loaded with kids of all ages. My best friend lived up above from where I lived, and she even lived in the same duplex where we had first lived. Everyone in the project was a neighbor. One of our favorite neighbors lived in the house next door and another favorite lived right beside us in the same duplex. Their side was a mirror image of ours. A few neighbors were not so friendly, but only a few.

When I talk about my childhood with someone, I usually have to explain the project, defend it somehow, as most people tend to think of projects as block after block of brick high-risers in the poorest part of any city. They never think of them as I do: a place filled with kids, ready playmates, with a grassy field of grasshoppers which jumped in front of you when you walked, an old tree for climbing, blueberries for picking, woods for exploring and a swamp perfect for catching pollywogs in spring and for ice skating on in winter. It was the best place in which to grow up. My sisters and I agree on that.

“Sounds are three-dimensional, just like images. They come at you from every direction.”

June 23, 2015

Mother Nature is being deceptive. The morning is lovely with sun glinting through the leafy boughs of the trees I can see right outside my window. Patches of blue sky spread across the sky. The breeze is just right. Mother Nature, though, is toying with us. This afternoon and evening we’ll have thunder storms. The night will be chilly and damp.

Even as a kid I was never afraid of thunder or lightning. The louder and more dramatic the storm, the more I liked it. I remember how the house shook when thunder boomed right overhead. The jagged bolts of lightning brightened the sky. I remember clapping for the best in show.

My childhood was filled with sounds, and I have a few favorites. Roller-skates created wonderfully different sounds depending on the surfaces where I roller skated. In the street my wheels rolling on the sand made a grating sound, a harsh sound, and small pebbles were cause for a less than smooth ride. Tar was the best surface on which to skate. The sound was gentle, almost a humming, and the ride was smooth. The sidewalk had small inclines leading to the gutter and the street. We used to roll down those inclines which gave us the momentum to keep going without any effort, but it was tar to street which took a bit of skill. The peepers at the swamp at night made the best sounds. I used to imagine aliens were landing because that was what the song of the peepers sounded like to me. It was a strange whistling, like the sound a ship might make moving swiftly through the air. Grasshoppers sang in the field below my house, and when we walked through the field, the sound got louder almost as if in alarm. The grasshoppers would jump in front of us sometimes three or four at a time. Theirs was a pretty song.

I remember the sounds of kids playing in the backyards all over the neighborhood. I remember the sound of my mother’s voice when she yelled out the back door. Sometimes it was a warning to stay away from the lines of drying laundry while other times it was an invitation to come inside for dinner. In my neighborhood fathers never yelled out the back door. That was always the job for mothers.

“When we lose these woods, we lose our soul. Not simply as individuals, but as a people.”

July 29, 2014

The humidity is gone and has left behind a wonderful summer day. I have no plans for today except to do a few things around the house. The errand or two I have I’ll save for tomorrow. I love these quiet mornings when all I can hear are the sweet songs of birds.

When I was a kid, I noticed bugs more than I noticed birds. Grasshoppers were one of my favorites. I loved watching them leap into the air as I walked through the field. In my mind’s eye I can still see it all. The houses were clustered around a small roundabout in a cul-de-sac. A path led from the street behind the houses to the field which stretched across from one group of trees to another. On one side of the field the trees were beside the road while on the other side the trees were thicker and we thought of them as the woods. The boundary of the field was an old tree trunk with one branch still attached and lying on the ground like an extended arm. We never went around the branch. We always climbed over though there was a path which went right around the old tree. Beyond the tree were a few other paths. One led up a grassy hill with blueberry bushes all along the side. The hill led to the water tower at the top. Another path from the tree went straight ahead to the swamp and continued to a street where the path ended. I always thought of that path as a shortcut to my friend who lived on that street. We played in the woods, hunted grasshoppers in the field, watch polliwogs grow into frogs at the swamp and ate our fill of blueberries. We’d race each other up the hill to the water tower. The winner was king of the hill, at least for that day. We could be gone the whole day and still be close to home.

When the town decided to build elderly housing, they took down all the trees and bulldozed the field. Even the swamp was gone. We were devastated.

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”

April 29, 2014

Today is a stay at home and be comfortable sort of day. It’s cold and, surprise, surprise, it’s cloudy. The errands got finished yesterday and the bird feeders were filled. I added cayenne pepper to the seeds in the big one, the one the red spawn loves. This morning he was at a smaller feeder, the one with a cage around it. I ran out and he was stuck for just a bit in the cage. He panicked and was gone in a heartbeat. Maybe that cage will keep him away.

Speaking of rodents, there have been no more mice in the trap. I’m still at two in the trap and one in the washing machine.

I don’t remember seeing critters when I was a kid. I remember bugs the most. My favorites were the grasshoppers. In the field, every step I took disturbed a grasshopper who leapt into the air then landed back down into the tall grass. Sometimes I’d run through the field just to watch the grasshoppers leap one after the other almost like a choreographed show. At the swamp we watched the tadpoles morph into frogs. We’d lie at the edge of the swamp on our stomachs and watch the tadpoles dart through the water. Their dark bodies were easy to see and follow. Sometimes I’d poke a finger into the water just to watch all of the tadpoles scatter. Mostly I remember their tails and how those tails disappeared over time through the spring into the summer. My favorite part of the cycle was when they still had tails but looked like frogs in their upper bodies. They could have been from a black and white 50’s science fiction movie when giant bugs and oversized creatures destroyed cities and ate people. My favorite bug of all was the praying mantis. It was neat looking with those forelegs which always reminded me of a fighter ready to box. I watched one for a long time once from the front steps to the garden. It hid in the plants and caught and ate a moth. I was delighted.

Once in a while, while we were riding in the car, we’d see a deer in a field near the side of the road. The first one to see it would always yell deer and point so we wouldn’t miss it. We had Weiss Dairy Farm in our town, and I loved going by it to see the cows in the field or in the corrals. I don’t remember ever seeing a skunk or a possum amble through the yard. I never even noticed they were missing.

Around here I have seen wild turkeys, coyotes, deer, foxes, possums and raccoons. The pond at the end of the street has spring peepers. I can already hear their calls. I wonder if there are tadpoles yet.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

April 27, 2014

Today is the same as yesterday: rainy and damp, the sort of damp which brings a chill. It’s socks and sweatshirt weather.

Today while I was watching the rain fall I realized I have seen wonders all of my life. When I was a little kid, falling snow was mesmerizing. Each flake fell gently and silently and glistened in the street light. I watched from the front window to make sure the street was getting covered. That gave me hope for a snow day. Thunder and lightning never scared me; instead, I was delighted. The flickering black and white TV screen was like magic. Every day brought delights some as lowly as a grasshopper caught in a jar and others as lofty as an airplane with a white tail.

When I was older, a teenager, the wonders didn’t cease. My friends and I wandered Harvard Square, went to museums and watched movies at the Orson Wells. We rode toboggans at the golf course and went to drive-in movies for the fun of it. We celebrated Mardi Gras on the third floor of the library with our forbidden food. We felt like rebels. We were there to watch the start of the space race. All of my science fiction stories were coming to life. It was amazing.

College was the wonder of learning new things, of being on my own and of meeting new people from all over the place. My insular life started to disappear. I began to look way beyond my boundaries wondering what was there for me to find. I wanted to experience the unfamiliar, the unexpected and even the uncomfortable.

I couldn’t believe I was actually living in Africa. Everything was a wonder: the colors, the smells and the sounds. Each bus ride was an adventure. Market day was the most fun. I wandered the stalls, bargained and picked out my chicken. The amazing became the commonplace, and I loved every day.

In the summer, I watch the fireflies. In August I sit outside for the meteor shower. I still watch snowflakes fall under the back light. I love Christmas. In my backyard the trees have white lights which shine every night. I love looking at them through the windows. They give the yard a bit of fairyland.

It seems wonder stays with us all of us lives.

“Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled.”

March 14, 2013

Yesterday was a delight. Though it was a bit chilly, the sun shined all day. I left my self-imposed hibernation and went outside to do some yard work and Gracie came with me. When I’d finished, I stood on the deck for a while and watched Gracie try to figure out how to carry a slightly deflated basketball in her mouth. She managed and ran around the yard in triumph. I did a laundry, changed my bed and the cat litter, filled the feeders and went on an errand. It was an industrious day all brought about because of the sun. It was like I had my battery recharged. Today is cloudy.

The mouse trap sat in the cellar for over a week, and I only caught two. It is now on the kitchen floor, and I haven’t caught any. Once there were mice. I cleaned out a kitchen drawer and found cloth and cardboard had been gnawed into small pieces, and the mice had left their familiar droppings. I threw stuff away, put most in the dishwasher and hand-washed other stuff. When I took out the drawer, I found piles of chewed paper and more droppings underneath it. With a vengeance, I scrubbed the drawer and under the drawer, and now that everything is clean, I keep checking both drawers, but there are no more tell-tale signs of current mice in residence. I’ll leave the trap for a few more days, but I’m guessing it was Maddie who rid this floor of rodents.

I never saw wild life when I was a kid. I don’t even remember seeing a skunk. I saw lots of fireflies, grasshoppers, tadpoles, frogs and a few snakes, but that was it. The only wildlife I saw was in the zoo. It never occurred to me I was missing anything. I got to see the cows at the farm and the horse in the pasture not far from my house, and that was enough. Here on the Cape I have seen   coyotes, foxes, deer, possums, raccoons and skunks. The latest are the wild turkeys. They are numerous and don’t mind strolling down the street as if in a parade. I love it when I see any of these animals. It means the Cape still has space for both of us.

“Joy is the feeling of grinning inside.”

March 2, 2012

Rain maybe later tonight, but for now it has stopped. Last night the rain had an icy feel about it, and being outside felt miserable. Today is brighter with white clouds, and I’ll take it and be glad.

Gracie and I will hit the dump later today, one of her all time favorite trips. The trunk is already filled, and I just have to find the ambition.

When I was a kid, the simplest things gave me joy. I loved walking through the piles of leaves beside the sidewalk. I’d kick the piles using one foot then the other and the leaves would fly through the air to the left and the right of me. Behind me, I’d leave a trail of leaves on the sidewalk and the street.

Riding my bike down a gigantic hill always made me feel as if I would take flight. My hair would fly in the wind propelled by the speed, and my grin would get broader and broader as I went faster and faster.

Lying on my back in the coolness of the grass on a summer’s night was the best way to watch the evening’s light show courtesy of the stars and the brightness of the night sky. I could see the Milky Way filled with its blanket of stars, and if I were really lucky, I’d see a falling star and make a wish.

The days and nights were filled with the sounds of insects. At night I’d fall asleep to the chirping of the katydid though I didn’t know its name back then, and I never asked. I just loved the music. During the day it was the grasshoppers in the deep meadow grass below my house. They’d jump as I walked through the grass, and sometimes I’d catch them in my bare hands then just let them go.

Fireflies are still magical to me. I used to imagine they were fairies that looked a bit like Tinker Bell. Even now when I see one, I follow it with my eyes until it flies away out of my sight. We used to catch them and put them in a jar and just watch the lights glow for a while then we’d set them free.

I have time again to see my world more slowly and I find myself awed by the simple things, the same way as when I was a kid. The night sky gives me pause, and I stand and look at the stars and still hope to see a falling star so I can make a wish. I sit outside during the meteor showers and find myself oohing out loud at their beauty. I love to watch the snow fall at night lit by my backdoor light. The birds in the morning are my favorite singers. They give joy to the start of my day. I love to sit outside at night and listen to the insects, the frogs at the small pond and singing of the night birds. My life is filled with joy.

 

“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.”

July 15, 2011

The day is so beautiful I couldn’t bear to go inside so my mac and I are on the deck and so is Gracie. She is in the shaded corner and is asleep so deeply the tip of her tongue is out. The day is filled with sounds. I can hear the different birds as if in stereo, and I can hear the rattle when they land on one of the larger feeders. The fountain, though, one of my favorite sounds was quiet until I added water. Gracie thinks it’s here for her as it is the exact right height. She drinks out of it often so I keep water on the deck for refilling purposes.

Last night was cold, sweatshirt cold, and my feet needed slippers before they got warm. It was 56°, September weather. Tonight will be in the 60’s, perfect for sleeping. A few days ago I had the AC blasting, and I couldn’t even stay on the deck for the heat.

Sometimes I want to be ten years old again. Nothing bothered me then. I didn’t care about the heat or the cold. Bugs were fun and grasshoppers were the most fun. In my mind’s eye I can still see the brown field below our house and the grasshoppers which jumped in front of our every step. Our hands were quick then and we could catch them in the air. Running through the field and catching brown grasshoppers was a game, and we always let them go.

When I was ten, every new day was filled with adventure. My future was the afternoon and never beyond it in time. We lived for that day and no further until the next day, and it too was the only day. Some nights we’d sleep in the backyard, but that always a spur of the moment decision. We’d put the old tarp my dad kept in the cellar over the grass and bring out pillows and blankets. I never felt the hardness of the ground. I was involved in the adventure.

When I was ten, every day was a wonder. Since my retirement, almost every day is mine, and I am again finding that sense of wonder, but unlike the ten year old me, I have to plan and make appointments, and I begrudge losing even a minute of my day. I do more spur of the moment things than I have in years, but sleeping on the hard ground doesn’t happen to be one of them.