And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
I don’t like bugs. I duck if I think I hear or see one. If there is one, I leave the room. I won’t squash them because I don’t want to be within ten feet of them. And this extends to ALL bugs, even the “nice” bugs, butterflies, ladybugs, dragonflies, pretty sorts of things, but still with those icky legs that are remarkably similar to a mosquito’s or a spider’s or a bee’s. I will admire “nice” bugs from a distance. Ten feet, at least. You will never catch me in a butterfly garden. I think the word roach should be reconfigured to four letters. All bug-names should be four-letters.
So imagine my surprise when I was in line at the drive-thru lane at Starbucks a couple days ago and I heard a “Tonk!” Looking up, I found myself face to face with a grasshopper. A BIG grasshopper. And there was just the windshield between us. No roof – I was in the convertible. We looked at each other. Like his legs, my skin crawled.
This is a very narrow drive-thru lane. The other day, it was blocked because a swarm of bees took over and the baristas couldn’t use the window. Today, it was grasshopper day, and I couldn’t get out of my car. I couldn’t back up or move forward. And a grasshopper was glaring at me through my windshield.
There have been a lot of grasshoppers lately. I’ve seen them on the studio’s windows, on the sides of Walgreens, sitting on the sidewalks. They’d left me alone.
Until now. And now, I had no escape.
So I sat there and stared at it.
I remembered chasing grasshoppers when I was a kid in northern Minnesota. Back then, I was okay with bugs. I caught grasshoppers, held them until they spat “tobacco juice” on my palm, then I shrieked and let them go. I picked up fuzzy caterpillars and put them in old jars, complete with a stick and leaves and grass and a lid with holes, and I watched them wrap themselves in cocoons and then come out as butterflies, which I released. I chased yellow and white moths, moths in name now, but butterflies then, and let them sit on my fingers. I held ladybugs to my heart and made a wish because I believed ladybugs were lucky. And oh, the fireflies. I didn’t call them that until I moved here. In my little corner of Minnesota, they were lightning bugs and I loved that they were flashes in the night that didn’t scare me.
I have to admit, I am still charmed by lightning bugs. So okay, there is a bug that I still like.
And now, this grasshopper. And me, trapped. I thought briefly about turning on my windshield wipers. But then I thought of all the grasshoppers I’d held, when I wasn’t afraid of grasshoppers.
And this one, it really didn’t look so bad. It had an intelligent face.
The car ahead of me moved up and so did I. So did the grasshopper.
“Hi,” I said.
It moved a bit to the left.
When I reached for my cell phone to take a picture of it, it leaped. The helicopter whirr made me duck. I don’t know where it went, but I spent the next several seconds patting myself down, making sure it wasn’t in my hair, on my shoulders or my neck, anywhere. It wasn’t. And I laughed.
The duck-down was definitely me now. But it was nice, just for that bit, to go back to being a small town northern Minnesota girl who chased butterflies that weren’t butterflies, thought that grasshoppers spat tobacco, and was charmed by lightning that only lit up the sky in a pinprick way and with no accompanying thunder.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.