13 August 2013

Galloping Grasshoppers

My brain is scattered today, so... forearmed is forewarned and all that.

Do grasshoppers suddenly appear in August everywhere, or is that only in Alaska? We go most of the summer without seeing any, and then it's the middle of August and BAM! grasshoppers everywhere. I noticed that the hordes had descended yesterday afternoon, as Little Bear and I were walking up to the university to meet Matt after work. On just one grassy half-mile hill, we saw well more than 50 grasshoppers! They're all about an inch long, but come in every shade of green and brown imaginable, and have subtle differences in their markings. Little Bear, of course, was enthralled by the tiny things moving so quickly around us, and kept trying to lunge out of the backpack to get to them.

Last night as I was showering, Matt and Little Bear came into the bathroom to brush their teeth. Matt looked at the heavy condensation on the mirror and flicked on the fan, saying, "I'm going to turn this on so we don't get all woozy-headed. That's a technical term, Little Bear."

It's getting close on a year now since we've been Outside, and with winter coming on, it can be tempting at times to think about booking a trip somewhere. Hawaii is ridiculously cheap to get to from Alaska... even in February when it's -50 F... "ridiculously cheap" in comparison to flying anywhere else in the US, at least! And yesterday, a flyer came in the mail for Homecoming at our alma mater. Ohio is still warm enough to have grasshoppers in October! What a concept. Fortunately for our bank account, the accompanying wave of nostalgia was countered by the other item in the mailbox; the visa bill. Priorities. Right.

The university has a lovely botanical garden which we haven't visited yet this summer, and since our supper plans are very simple tonight, I'm thinking I'll try to talk Matt into going this evening. We said we'd go for a walk tonight... Why not do it while wandering around admiring all of the flowers and vegetables? When I was little my family went there several times each summer; my parents would be looking for new plants to try in their garden, but the kids were more excited about watching the koi in the elaborate pond, playing in the willow maze designed by some architecture students, and in August, catching grasshoppers. Little Bear would be so excited if we could actually set him down in the grass where they were hopping around!

I'm still trying to get in at least one walk per day, two if I can, while it is summer. Little Bear and I took an early walk this morning before it got too warm; it was only 63 F when we left! This August has been unseasonably hot, though, and today doesn't look like it'll be an exception: we were only out for an hour, and the thermometer climbed almost ten degrees! August is also normally our rainiest month, and I don't think we've gotten more than a couple of half hour cloudbursts so far. It's pretty, but it's sure not helping with the wildfires. More than 1.2 million acres have burned so far this year, and fire officials have our part of the state classed as "extremely high risk" right now because of the unusual extended hot, dry weather. Fortunately there is nothing too close to town, but smoke has been blowing over from some  of the closer fires, making spending time outside fairly unpleasant to downright unhealthy some days. Not every day, thank goodness! On the bad days, I keep Little Bear inside and don't tax our lungs by going for a walk, but thankfully there haven't been too many days like that.

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