Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Garden of Eden or Looney Tunes?

I can’t decide if we are now living in the Amazon region or during the time of the Old Testament. With a wide array of strange-to-us wildlife and plants—snakes, birds, lizards, and monster vines--our small acreage sometimes seems like a rainforest in Brazil. But with the yard currently covered with grasshoppers/locusts, I wonder which Bible plague will visit us next. The amazing thing about the grasshoppers is authorities say they are a result of drought followed by a wet winter. And that they show up every seven years--which would seem to make the drought irrelevant to their arrival. But more importantly, authorities say there’s nothing you can do to get rid of them.

St. Pauli Girl thinks our home is also closely related to the Bible since she thinks central Texas is the Garden of Eden. “Of course it is,” I replied, “if the Garden of Eden was full of roosters, walking sticks, grasshoppers, scorpions and snakes.”

“Um, they did have snakes, remember?”

“Yes, talking snakes. At least then you could ask the snake if it was thinking about biting you,” I answered.

(Note: for the rest of this blog, grasshoppers will be referred to as locusts. Grasshoppers sound cute, like Jiminy Cricket. Except they’re not crickets, and they don’t talk.)

Recently, I got to experience the joy of mowing a lawn overrun with locusts. And what do they do when you approach with a mower? They hop! Everywhere! Over you, under you, and onto you! As I rode the lawn mower through the yard, thousands of locusts took off in crazy directions; I waved my arm in front of my face like a windshield wiper.

Our lawn mower has a nice safety feature in that if you get off the seat, the engine immediately shuts down. Another not so nice feature is that if the engine shuts down without a foot on the brake, the lawn mower backfires, like the sound of a shotgun. As I rode through the valley of locusts, inevitably one of them flew up into the leg of my shorts. Disturbed, I jumped up, which shut down the engine and backfired. I then dove to the ground trying to free the locust from my shorts.

St. Pauli Girl came running. “Are you okay? I thought you’d been shot.”

Luckily, we have six chickens and one dog that like to eat locusts. The chicken yard is totally devoid of locusts. If we could clone the chickens a few thousand times, we might have enough to rid the yard of the invaders. A few days after I mowed, we noticed a couple of odd birds running through the property. After careful inspection, we realized they were roadrunners (and this was not just because they were running, although that was a strong clue.) St. Pauli Girl did some careful research and said, “They eat bugs, locusts and …. rattlesnakes!”

This was great news. They may not clear out the locusts, but at least they would get rid of any rattlesnakes in the area. We began to worship our new feathered friends, bowing to them as they passed and chastising our dog as he tried to chase them. A few days later, I noticed an Acme moving van parked across the street. I took over a fruitcake to meet the new neighbor. He had long ears and a big snout.

“What did you say you do again?” I asked.

“I’m a genius.”

“Oh like a guru? We used to live next to a guru.”

“No, genius. Super-genius in fact.”

He was a bit smug. I came back worried and explained my fears to St. Pauli Girl. “I think a coyote moved in across the street. I think he’s after the roadrunners.”

“You think he might eat them?”

“Not at all. I’m more worried about our house getting destroyed by boulders flung from giant slingshots and the occasional stick of Acme TNT.”

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