09 October 2013

Grasshopper Green

Maria Sibylla Merian early 18th c.
When I was very small there was a field on the corner of a small alleyway several doors down from our house. It wasn't a very large field, thinking back to it now, perhaps no larger than a house lot. But the weeds and grass grew nearly to my chin and at the time it may as well have been 40 acres for the way it seemed to a 5 year old.

Other children and I would walk there with our glass jars to collect grasshoppers, dutifully poking holes in the metal jar lids so they could breath (just barely, I'm sure!) and then placing handfuls of grass inside to make them feel at home. 

They would hop and jump against the glass, panicked no doubt at their new and unfamiliar—and unwanted—home. At the end of the day we would let them out again, watching as they jumped away into the protective fronds of field flowers and tall grass. 
There is a song I remember from those days. I can't recall where or when I learned it. But I think of it every time I see a grasshopper in the garden, which sadly isn't that often.
Grasshopper Green is a comical chap:
He lives on the best of fare.
Bright little trousers, jacket, and cap,
These are his summer wear.
Out in the meadows he loves to go,
Playing away in the sun; 
It's hopperty, skipperty, high and low,
Summers's the time for fun.


  1. Oh that's such a beautifully written post.
    It took me straight back to my childhood and similar experiences - that was what we did then.
    One of my granddaughters is very interested in nature and her dad gave her a journal to record the insects she sees on their walks. She also has a little magnifying glass to observe them more closely!
    She is 8yrs.
    My late father who was a botanist would love to have known this!!!
    Such a sweet poem too - I found it on Google but it is author unknown!

  2. Thanks so much for stopping by Shane, and for your kind words. My 9 year old granddaughter loves observing insects and particularly loves worms! She has no fear in touching them or picking them up and carrying them safely into the garden. Of my earliest childhood memories, my catch-and-release grasshopper escapades are the most vivid. How wonderful that you had that background in your family. I'm currently reading " Remarkable Creatures" by Tracy Chevalier and am thoroughly enjoying it. It captures all the wonder of discovering fossilized creatures and the importance of being atttentive and observant as we traverse life.