It’s difficult to gaze out the window and think of anything else but the elephant in the room. Or the elephant in the air.
Speaking of elephants, the Twisp Feed reader board had a joke about an elephant this week. “Why can’t you see the elephants hiding in the trees? Because they’re so good at it.” At first, it was so literal, I didn’t get it. I figured I was missing something more subtle, or witty. Katrina helped me see the forest for the trees and then I realized I was missing something — my sense of humor. I think I’ve found it again, and that’s good because we all need some humor to get through the next few weeks of the smokapolypse.
Amongst the fires and floods ravaging communities across the continent and nearby, here at home we are battling a silent war this summer that has affected everyone. Less serious than the destruction our fellow countrymen have endured, no one here at home seems spared in the fight against the grasshoppers.
At the risking of lumping the current grasshopper plague into a Biblical scale prophesy foretelling the end of the world or as a warning to head the power of God, the struggle on the ground is real. For the first time ever, I planted dahlias, only to open their glorious blooms and get annihilated. Their petals serrated and mowed down into stubby little blobs of color, offering a fraction of the joy intended. Across the garden, everything is munched.
Local tales of grasshopper wars include epic waves of jumping arthropods rippling through fields and lawns. The word from Bear Creek golfers is that the grasshoppers are creating a fantastic sea of wavelike swarms across the fairways as the carts cruise towards the greens. Then the greens themselves are reported to be blanketed with little hoppers, making curious obstacle course for putters.
It’s well known that traditional diets in cultures, the world over, eat grasshoppers, or similar, for high protein nutrition. Climate-conscious food companies are now integrating grasshoppers into pet food and even a few startup companies have started farming them for human protein powders.
Our family tried fried and salted grasshoppers on an oversea trip a couple years ago. They are a common street snack food in parts of the world, and feeling adventurous, we indulged. I wish I could say it tasted like chicken. No, it tasted like grasshoppers. Crunchy, bitter, and mushy in the middle. Then, flakes of the exo-skeleton got stuck between our teeth, requiring rinsing and flossing, all together imprinting the entire culinary trip as an unsavory experience.
There’s a cycle to these grasshopper outbreaks. Scientists say it’s the conditions in the fall that create the spring hatch. Perhaps the warm long October last year contributed to this year’s abundance. Perhaps it’s a warning, a sign of a changing climate. Perhaps it’s divine intervention. But I am optimistic that it’s not a sign of the end of the world, and if it were, we probably wouldn’t see it. After all, there could be an elephant hiding in the woods, and we wouldn’t know it.